KUALA LUMPUR: Armed smugglers shot dead a policeman and seriously wounded another at the Malaysia-Thai border at Padang Besar in Perlis early yesterday.
Cpl Baharuddin Ramli, 54, who suffered a gunshot to his rib cage, died minutes after an ensuing shootout he and his colleague Cpl Norihan Tari had engaged in with a group of smugglers at about 3am.
Sources said both policemen, attached to the 3rd Battalion General Operations Force (GOF), were on border patrol under Ops Benteng not far from the checkpoint when they stumbled upon two large groups of smugglers.
The smugglers then fired at Baharuddin and Norihan, who returned fire.
An injured Baharuddin managed to stagger to the checkpoint for help but fell unconscious minutes later.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene pronounced him dead.
Norihan, who suffered gunshot wounds to his abdomen, was rushed to the Kangar Hospital where he is reported to be in serious condition.
It is learnt that at least three of the smugglers, who fled back into Thailand, were injured after being hit by gunfire from Baharuddin and Norihan.
The injured smugglers, who are aged between 19 and 48, were nabbed by Thai police when they sought treatment at a hospital in Sadao.
Soon after the shootout, the GOF elite VAT 69 commando unit rushed to the location to secure the area.
On sweeping the location, a suspected smuggler was arrested.
Sources said the area, which is patrolled by GOF personnel, was a notorious path often used by human traffickers, gun-runners and other smugglers.
It is learnt that the smugglers’ activities were choked after security was intensified in the area in recent months.
Baharuddin’s body was released last night for burial at his hometown in Negri Sembilan. It is learnt that Baharuddin, who leaves a wife, Relow Alang Ko, and three children, was a former member of the Royal Malaysia Police football team.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said he has directed police to carry out a comprehensive investigation.
“The government views this seriously and will not compromise with any party, especially smugglers who carry out cross- border crimes,” he said.