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Chinese citizen kidnapped in Malaysia

By Sophie Brown, CNN
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 0829 GMT (1629 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gunmen have kidnapped a Chinese man working in Malaysian Borneo
  • Authorities believe Filipino rebels are responsible
  • Another Chinese citizen and a Filipino worker were abducted from the region last month

(CNN) -- Malaysian authorities are bolstering security measures on the island of Borneo after a Chinese citizen was kidnapped by suspected Filipino rebels Tuesday.

Gunmen armed with M-16 rifles abducted Yang Zailin, 34, from the fish farm where he worked on the east coast of Sabah around 2.45 am, the state's director general of security, Mohammad Mentek said in a statement Tuesday.

The kidnappers, who are believed to be from the mainly Muslim southern part of the Philippines, fled by boat into international waters after exchanging gunfire with Malaysian security forces, the statement said.

Originally from Guizhou province, Yang had been working in Sabah for three years as the manager of the farm, China's Deputy Consul General in Kuching, Liu Dong Yuan, told CNN. The farm belongs to a Hong Kong-owned company called Wonderful Terrace.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said authorities are looking to introduce travel restrictions and curfews at high-risk spots around the coast of Sabah following the incident, according to local media reports.

The kidnapping is the latest in a spate of abductions of foreigners in the area.

On April 2, two women -- a Chinese tourist and a Filipino hotel worker -- were taken from a diving resort on the coast of Sabah. Authorities say the pair are being held for ransom, in the province of Sulu in the southern Philippines.

Last November, a Taiwanese man died when he and his wife were kidnapped from another Sabah resort by suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen. His wife was freed after being held hostage for more than a month on the island of Jolo, also in Sulu province.

Early in 2013, Malaysia established a special security zone along Sabah's maritime border after insurgents from the southern Philippines stormed a village in the eastern district of Lahad Datu.

The latest kidnappings could further strain diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China, which have had a tense relationship since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished on March 8.

Many relatives of those on board the missing plane, most of whom were Chinese, have been fiercely critical of Malaysia's handling of the investigation.

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