‘Two shootings before fatal attack’

KUALA LUMPUR: Two shootings had occurred near the same area at the Malaysia-Thai border where an Orang Asli policeman was killed during an attack by smugglers, says Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.

There were no injuries reported in the previous two incidents.

“This is a scare tactic but they (the criminals) made an error. My men are not scared, ” he said.

Abdul Hamid was speaking to reporters at Bukit Aman to explain the sequence of yesterday’s incident in which two General Operations Force (GOF) personnel were attacked by smugglers at the border.

Kpl Baharuddin Ramli, 54, from Negri Sembilan, was killed while his partner Kpl Norihan Tari, 39, was seriously injured.

The GOF is the light infantry arm of the Royal Malaysia Police.

At around 2.30am yesterday, both policemen were on a reconnaissance mission 600m away from the “A3” door of the Thai-Malaysia border.

Both were only equipped with their handguns, which the IGP said was normal for information gathering missions.

While normal circumstances would require the team to seek assistance via radio during emergencies, the shooting incident occurred immediately after the policemen and the suspects stumbled upon each other by surprise.

“Kpl Baharuddin, injured from the shooting and having emptied his gun, crawled over and instructed Kpl Norihan to return to their post to get help.

“Kpl Norihan rushed back to the post on his motorcycle and collapsed just as he reached the post after pressing his horn for help.”

Despite being shot three times, Kpl Norihan was in stable condition after he was rushed to hospital.

“He was shot twice in the stomach, ” Abdul Hamid said.

At around 7am, a 12-men team from the police’s Vat 69 commando group managed to arrest a Thai suspect after tracking him down from the scene of the shooting.

A second suspect was also arrested by the GOF.

He said Thailand police also arrested four suspects, three of whom were found while they were being treated for their gun wounds.

“The smugglers were transporting ketum leaves and cough medicine prepared by their Malaysian counterparts at the time of the shooting, ” he said.

He added that the leader of the Malaysian side had already been identified.

Forensic investigations are still being conducted to identify the guns used by the suspects and who fired the first shots.

Investigations showed that smugglers in Thailand would trade syabu, heroin and other drugs for the leaves and cough medicine in a “barter system” with the Malaysian smugglers.

The IGP strongly denied allegations that the shooting occurred due to a “deal that went wrong”.

“Both policemen had been awarded for their excellence in performing their duty prior to the incident, ” he added.

The incident with the suspected smugglers occurred at the Malaysia-Thailand border in Perlis.

In a statement, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said Kpl Norihan was being treated in Tuanku Fauziah Hospital in Kangar.

He said early investigations showed that the two men were carrying out intelligence work along the TSp border wall in Padang Besar at 3am yesterday.

They were suddenly beset by two groups of smugglers comprising both Malaysians and foreigners and a shootout took place.

Police, said Hamzah, were now conducting a investigation into the identity of these smugglers.

“Malaysia takes this incident seriously. We will never compromise with anyone, especially with smugglers, along our borders, ” he added.

Kota Setar OCPD Asst Comm Ahmad Shukri Mat Akhir said Kpl Baharuddin’s body was sent to Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital for a post-mortem.

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