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Monday March 30, 2009
By TAN SIN CHOW
IT was a scene straight out of a action-packed Hollywood movie when the Marine Assault Team (MAST) of the marine police stormed a ship to free hostages off the east coast of Penang Island on Friday.
Using grenades and smoke grenades, the 14 MAST cops managed to rescue three people who were being held hostage by five pirates.
There were deafening sounds when the personnel armed with pistols and sub-machine guns exchange fire with the pirates.
Later, they rushed to a nearby island and gunned down five more pirates and freed another three hostages.
All this was a drill by MAST personnel who were putting to practice the know-ledge, skills and other qualities acquired during a three-week intensive training course in Penang.
The group had completed the training under the Fusion Mint programme conducted by the US Navy Seals.
The demonstration began at 3.15pm when MAST rushed to the ship in two water scooters, two rigid hull fender boats (RHFB) and a water CAT (carrier assault team) after receiving a distress call.
The alarmed pirates noticed the MAST personnel approaching their boat and began firing.
MAST returned fire before hurling gre-nades and smoke grenades towards the ship in a move to blur the vision of the pirates.
Once onboard, the MAST personnel quickly subdued the pirates.
Some kept watch on the captured pirates while other MAST cops rescued the three hostages and conducted a thorough search of the ship.
Moments later, the MAST personnel left for an island believed to be the pirates’ hideout located some 200m away.
They stormed into action upon reaching the shore and the mission to capture more pirates was accomplished within several minutes.
During a tense shootout, all the pirates at the hideout were gunned down.
Another three hostages who had been tied up and badly treated were rescued.
The MAST personnel subsequently flattened the hideouts with explosives.
It was a symbolic gesture of a mission accomplished.
Bukit Aman police Marine Operation Force training officer Asst Supt Mohd Nassim Abdullah said he was satisfied with the performance of the MAST personnel after seeing them in action for two hours.
He said the 30 MAST cops who took part in the exercise including those who acted as ‘pirates’ and ‘hostages’ and they had all just completed their training under the programme jointly organised by Bukit Aman and the US Embassy.
ASP Mohd Nassim said the course was geared towards merging the abilities of the US Navy Seals with that of the Malaysian marine police, especially on the four fundamental aspects of skill, knowledge, experience and tactics.
“The training included range safety, tactical shooting, armed movement tactics, stress course as well as mission planning, boarding and execution,” he said.
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