Five armed men kidnapped a Chinese manager of a caged fish farm at Pulau Baik off Lahad Datu.
State Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the latest incident involved 34-year-old, Yang Zai Lin, from Guangzhou, China, from the farm at 2.45am.
Two masked men wearing military fatigues and armed with two weapons believed to be M16 rifles and three men wearing civilian clothing abducted Yang from the Wonderful Terrace Sdn Bhd fish farm near Silam.
"The kidnappers aged between 30 and 50 headed to the workers quarters and kicked one room occupied by a woman to ask the whereabouts of the farm manager.
"Coincidentally, Yang who occupied a room next to the woman heard the loud kicks and immediately left the room.
Unfortunately, Yang was captured and dragged into the kidnappers' boat, which we believe is a small boat and was later changed to a bigger boat with 200 horsepower outboard engine before heading to Philippine waters," he said.
The first kidnapping incident is yet to be resolved and involved a group of seven armed gunmen who intruded into the Singamata Adventures Reef and Resort in Semporna and abducted two foreign women, - a 29-year-old Chinese student-tourist, Gao Huayun and the Filipina resort worker Marcy Dayawan, 40.
Speaking at a press conference at the Sabah police headquarters in Kepayan in the presence of State Police Crime Investigation Department head SAC Omar Mammah, he said the security forces were alerted at 2.53am prior to mobilising an operation to look for the boat that was detected at the waters off Mataking Island near the Malaysia-Philippine border.
"Our marine police boats, which are stationed at the area, spotted the kidnappers' boat and immediately pursued the boat that had the Chinese hostage.
"The first shootout occurred at 6.20am when the kidnappers shot at our men who shot back. The shooting lasted for a few minutes.
"The shooting during the one-hour long pursuit to intercept the boat did not hit anyone inside the boat.
"The boat passed through the Alice Reef area, whereby half of the area is on Malaysian waters and half in the Philippines, before going into Saluag island area off Southern Island Sibutu in Southern Philippine," he said.
According to Hamza, the security forces' boat was ordered to withdraw from entering further into the international waters to pursue the kidnappers' boat when the boat reached up to the open sea off Sibutu Island.
"Following the incident, we have contacted our counterparts at Southern Philippines as we have good ties with them.
"During the hot pursuit of the kidnappers' boat, we were allowed to enter Philippine watersÉhowever, we did not allow our security forces' boat to go further when it reached the Sibutu Island area which could jeopardise the safety of our forces in the area," he said.
To a question, Hamza said navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) including big marine boats are stationed as the first-line defense at the area identified used by kidnappers to flee.
He added that small boats of the three forces are also stationed along the area to act as quick response force.
Hence, he said one of the marine police boat that was nearby the area detected and pursued the kidnappers' boat.
Police have detained 19 farm workers to be investigated and did not rule out the possibility of an "inside job".
Eight of the staff were Timorese and eight Suluks, the latter without valid personal documents.
The abductors have reportedly demanded a RM36-million ransom for the release of Gao.
He said the case is being investigated under Section 365 of the Penal Code and Section 4 of the Firearms Increased Penalties Act 1971.
To another question, he said he could not immediately establish a link between the Silam kidnapping with the earlier robbery of two 50 horsepower outboard engines belonging to fishermen at 11pm on Sunday.
On security at the farm, Hamza said the fish farm was guarded by two security guards who were not armed.