LABUAN (Bernama): The men involved in a shootout with customs personnel in Semporna waters last Friday (Dec 20) are believed to be fuel smugglers, according to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department.
Its deputy director-general Datuk Abdul Latif Abdul Kadir (Enforcement and Compliance) said a five-man party from the Lahad Datu marine customs was conducting an operation when they encountered the suspected smugglers near the popular tourist island of Pulau Bohey Dulang.
"Based on a public tip-off, at about 3.45pm on Dec 20, our team launched an operation using an interceptor boat of KG103 from the Lahad Datu marine customs jetty to Pulau Omadal.
"On approaching Pulau Bohey Dulang, they spotted a suspicious-looking blue-and-white-stripped wooden boat with seven people on board.
"Our personnel switched on the beacon light with siren and tried to intercept the speeding boat (travelling around 25-30 knots). However, it suddenly came to a halt and the suspects shot at our personnel from about 200 metres,” he told a press conference at the Labuan Customs Community Hall in Kg Bukit Kuda before visiting the Labuan ferry terminal here on Monday (Dec 23).
Latif said the customs personnel then stopped their boat and returned fire to protect themselves.
"As the suspected smugglers fled towards international waters, our personnel sought assistance from the Royal Malaysian Police and Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom),” he said.
He said that was the first shootout involving customs personnel this year.
"We are grateful that none of our personnel was injured and there was no damage to our asset in the incident. Our personnel lodged a police report at the Semporna police station soon after the incident,” Latif said.
Semporna OCPD Supt Sabarudin Rahmat had said that the shootout happened at 5.30pm on Dec 20.
Esscom commander Datuk Hazani Ghazali had said that about 50 shots were fired in the shootout.
"However, the gunshots did not strike the customs boat and no personnel were injured,” he said.- Bernama
Did you find this article insightful?