PETALING JAYA: The use of live ammunition in military exercises, including demonstrations and training, is to instil confidence among elite soldiers, National Association of Patriots (Patriot) said yesterday.
Its president, Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji (pix), was commenting on the death of Mej Mohd Zahir Armaya, 36, who was shot by a fellow officer during a commando demonstration at the Lok Kawi camp in Sabah last week.
“The commandos use live ammunition during such exercises so that personnel get used to firing live bullets as opposed to blanks,” he told theSun.
“The Commandos are sharpshooters and they must be trained well to face life-threatening situations.”
Ranger Kpt Wong Ang Peng, who is also a Patriot member, said Mohd Zahir was an expert in counter-terrorism and a sharpshooter.
“I was told that the other soldier was also a sharpshooter and had hit the edge of Mohd Zahir’s bulletproof vest before hitting him. It’s very unfortunate for the military and everyone to have lost a hero,” Wong said yesterday.
He added the choice of whether to use live ammunition or blanks in demonstrations was the army’s decision.
“The decision whether to use live bullets or not is up to them. There’s no right or wrong here as it has been done before. However, there will be an investigation by the army.”
On Saturday, Sabah police chief Comm Datuk Omar Mammah said police had recorded statements from the relevant people, including army personnel.
“We have recorded the statement from a 36-year-old soldier, who was part of the demonstration where live ammunition was used,” he said.
When asked whether foul play was involved, he said: “Our investigations have found this incident was accidental.”
Mohd Zahir died during a shooting demonstration in Lok Kawi, Sabah, last Wednesday.
The demonstration was held to mark the launch of the Fifth Division and 13th Brigade of the Malaysian Infantry.