Armed men abduct Chinese, Philippine women from Malaysia resort -reports

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 Wed Apr 2, 2014 10:44pm EDT

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 (Reuters) - A Chinese tourist and a Philippine hotel worker were abducted by armed men at a diving resort in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, Malaysian media reported on Thursday.

The two abducted women were at the resort's jetty on Wednesday night when the men arrived by boat, Malaysia's New Straits Times newspaper cited Eastern Sabah Security Command Director Mohammad Mentek as saying.

An employee at the Singamata Reef Resort, contacted by Reuters, confirmed an abduction had taken place, but declined to provide details. Malaysian police could not immediately be reached for comment.

The report comes at a time when Malaysia's image has been tarnished in China by negative publicity over its handling of the March 8 disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people aboard, most of them Chinese nationals.

Sabah has become a popular tourist destination for Chinese in recent years, but has faced security problems due to its proximity to the restive southern Philippines.

Last February, more than 100 armed Filipinos landed by boat and launched attacks on Malaysian security forces, sparking a major security crisis in the area close to the Singamata resort.

In November, armed men landed on Pom-Pom island near Semporna, killed a tourist from Taiwan and abducted his wife. She was later rescued by Philippine security forces. (Reporting by Al Zaquan Amer Hamzah, Yantoultra Ngui in Kuala Lumpur and; Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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