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Friday July 28, 2006

Dr Mahathir sprayed with chemical irritant, attacker identified


Update by The Star Newsdesk 

KOTA BARU: A man sprayed a chemical irritant in the direction of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad moments after the former Prime Minister arrived at the airport here Friday morning. 

In Putrajaya, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was angry over the incident and ordered the police to conduct an immediate investigation and to take stern action against those responsible for the act. 

According to police, former Umno strongman Datuk Ibrahim Ali took the brunt of the spray on his face while Dr Mahathir and his bodyguard were also affected. 

The 11am (0300GMT) incident took place just as Dr Mahathir was entering a 4WD vehicle together with Ibrahim. 

Dr Mahathir, who was seen taking off his glasses and wiping his eyes, was rushed from the vehicle by his other security personnel to a car nearby, which then drove away. 

Dr Mahathir being escorted after the incident at the Sultan Ismail Airport in Kota Baru.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan told The Star that his officers have identified the man who sprayed the irritant and expect to make an arrest soon. 

Musa said the police were investigating the incident under Section 328 of the Penal Code. 

The section reads: "Whoever administer to or causes to be taken by any person any poison or any stupefying intoxication or unwholesome drug or other things with intent to cause hurt to such person or with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of an offence or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause hurt shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also liable to fine" 

Later at a press conference, Dr Mahathir described the attack as an attempt to stop him from speaking out. 

Describing how he felt, Dr Mahathir said: “It felt something like a sore throat, my eys were stinging, I could not see clearly and removed my glasses.” 

The former premier said he would continue with his scheduled talks Friday. 

Dr Mahathir was on a one-day visit to Kelantan and was scheduled to attend a dialogue and dinner organised by the Kelantan People’s Action Council headed by Datuk Paduka Ibrahim Ali. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said he was angry over the incident and ordered the police to conduct an immediate investigation and to take stern action against those responsible for the act. 

"I regret and am very angry such an incident has happened," he said, adding that those responsible for the incident should be severely punished. 

He said the matter should be immediately resolved to avoid negative implications and misconception among the public. 

The Prime Minister also feared that certain quarters would take advantage of the incident by disseminating rumours, especially through the Internet.

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