SEMPORNA, Malaysia - Police have yet to ascertain if abductors involved in the murder of a Taiwanese man and kidnapping of his wife had any links to militant groups including the Abu Sayyaf group operating in southern Philippines.
Sabah Police Commssioner Datuk Hamza Taib said based on investigations so far, the intruders were criminals who stormed into a chalet at the Pom Pom Resort in Semporna, possibly to rob the visitors.
"The crime was likely committed by criminals and not any known armed group," he told reporters in Kota Kinabalu after visiting the scene and setting up a special task force to investigate Friday's 1am incident.
However, he said police believed that the abducted Taiwanese woman, Chang An Wei, 58, might be still alive and taken across the border by the unidentified gunmen.
"From our experience in Sabah, crimes are committed by ordinary criminals, but they could pass them on to other groups," he said, adding that they have also informed their counterparts in the Philippines and intensified the search within the islands in Semporna.
He said the suspects had gained entry into one of the five sea chalets through a toilet window, where they shot and killed the man, Lim Min Hsu, 57, possibly during a scuffle.
"When the resort's guard heard the shots, he ran to inform the GOF (General Operations Force) personnel at a base about 800m from the scene," he said, adding that the door to the chalet was locked from the inside.
"They found the body and four empty bullet casings. His wife was abducted," Hamzah said at a late evening press conference.
Meanwhile, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman urged people not to panic or be influenced by rumours regarding the incident.
Musa, who is also the State Security Committee chairman said the authorities at the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) had briefed him on the incident.
He assured that tourists that Sabah is a safe place to visit and the incident occurred at an isolated area.
"Nevertheless, we will make sure the safety of tourists is guaranteed at all times.
"The relevant authorities are taking action now," he said.