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May 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 40, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Another Diver Kidnapping Near Sipadan

from the May, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fourteen years after 21 people (including two Americans) were kidnapped from Sipadan Island, a popular dive site off the Borneo island of Sabah, one more tourist -- and a resort worker -- have been grabbed in the town of Semporna, a quick ferry ride away.

At least seven gunmen raided the Singamata Adventures and Reef Resort, a five-star PADI resort in Semporna, on April 2 and seized a 29-year-old Chinese tourist and a 40-year-old Filipino resort worker. The two victims are being held by members of the militant group Abu Sayyaf, who were also involved in the 2000 kidnappings in Sipadan, and in the November kidnapping of a 58-year-old Taiwanese woman on Pom Pom Island, who was eventually released a month later after paying ransom. The Abu Sayyaf has resorted to ransom kidnappings to raise money for weapons and to fund terror attacks in the Philippines.

Undercurrent contributor Larry Clinton took a ferry from Semporna to Sipadan for diving in August 2012, and says "the town itself looks like a seedy backpacker destination," with nothing that would entice divers to stay. While the U.S. State Department doesn't have a Travel Alert currently issued for Malaysia, it does state on its website that U.S. citizens are accordingly advised against travel to the coastal resorts in Eastern Sabah, including the divers' favorite Sipadan, because "kidnappings-forransom occur frequently in these areas."

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