Tourists take cover on the floor next to an overturned table as armed men occupy a hotel in Sabah, Malaysia in this photo taken on April 2, 2014. A Chinese tourist and a Filipino hotel worker were abducted by the armed men at the Singamata Reef Resort in Sabah. Photo: Reuters/s_michelle
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday responded to China's demand that Malaysia ensures the safety of its nationals, after armed men abducted two women, a Chinese tourist and a Philippine hotel worker, from a Malaysian diving resort on Borneo island.
Najib said his government is going to do everything in its power to rescue the two women:
"I take this incident very seriously, the police are conducting their investigations of what happened. We have also asked for cooperation from the Philippine government to help rescue them. We will try our best, because this involves a Chinese citizen, and coincidentally, this incident might cause further tensions, which we will have to avoid. There might be people who will use this incident to cause further complications with China, because they might tie this to the tragedy of missing flight MH370."
The unidentified gunmen kidnapped the two women on Wednesday night from Singamata island off the coastal town of Semporna in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah.
Some Malaysian media reports said the 29-year old tourist was in her room when the gunmen forced her out into a waiting boat. But others said both women were on a jetty when they were snatched.
Najib responded to China's demands for safety of its citizens during a visit to Perth, Australia where he was looking at rescue operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Malaysia's image has been battered in China over the handling of the investigation into the disappearance of the plane with 239 people aboard, most of them Chinese nationals, on March 8.
Relations have become strained between the two countries.
Travel agents have reported a slump in bookings to the Southeast Asian nation.