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Cop shot dead by smugglers (Updated)

24 Nov 2020 / 21:46 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Armed smugglers shot dead a policeman and seriously wounded another in a shootout at the Malaysia-Thailand border at Padang Besar, Perlis early today.

Corporal Baharuddin Ramli, 54, was killed by a gunshot to his right rib cage while his colleague Corporal Norihan Tari, 39, who suffered three gunshot wounds was critically injured.

The policemen were engaged in a shootout with a group of ketum leaves and cough mixture smugglers at about 2.30am.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said yesterday that both personnel who were with the elite Senoi Praaq unit of the 3rd Batalion General Operations Force (GOF) were on a reconnaisance mission not far from their base when they stumbled upon a dozen smugglers.

“They left for the operation deep in the jungle on a motorcycle and then began the reconnaisance on foot. The smugglers on being spotted, fired gunshots at Baharuddin and Norihan who then returned fire. When they ran out of ammunition, Baharuddin who was injured then ordered Norihan to seek help from their base.” he said.

Abdul Hamid said Norihan, who was also wounded, managed to stagger to his motorcycle, rode it to a nearby GOF post and after relating what had happened, he fell unconscious.

He said while Norihan was being rushed to a hospital for treatment, a GOF officer gathered five other personnel and headed out into the jungle to look for Baharuddin.

“When they found him, he was lying on the ground, face up with his pistol on his chest. Paramedics who arrived at the scene later pronounced him dead. They were armed lightly with only pistols as they were conducting survellaince and intelligence-gathering. Had they been on a patrol mission, they would be armed with heavy assault rifles. Although we are saddened by Baharuddin’s death and the injuries suffered by Norihan, we are proud of them for their courage in engaging the smugglers and injuring three of them,“ he said.

Abdul Hamid said Thai police had nabbed three of the injured smugglers who fled back into Thailand when they sought treatment at a hospital at a Thai border town.

He said the injured smugglers also led Thai police to a fourth suspect who was held shortly after.

Abdul Hamid said soon after the shootout, the GOF’s elite VAT 69 commando unit rushed to the location to secure the area and on sweeping the place, a suspected smuggler was arrested in the jungle.

A large amount of ketum leaves and cough mixture dumped by the smugglers were also recovered.

“We learnt that the ketum leaves and cough mixture which is in demand in Thailand were prepared by Malaysian syndicates and to be smuggled out. The items are barter-traded with the Thai syndicates for other narcotics such as heroin, syabu and yaaba pills. We have identified the local syndicate and are on the hunt for them. There are seven groups of smugglers active in the area.”

Abdul Hamid said the area which was patrolled by the GOF personnel was a notorious path often used by smugglers.

He said that the activities of smugglers were choked after security was intensified in the area in the recent months.

“Prior to this case, two other incidents occurred on Nov 12 and Nov 15 when smugglers fired gunshots at GOF posts to scare the personnel. However, the Senoi Praaq is a fearless and formidable unit. Their presence at the border was a threat to the activities of the smugglers. “ he said.

Abdul Hamid who promptly left for Perlis on learning of the incident yesterday morning said Baharuddin’s body will be released after a post mortem before he is given a full police burial at his hometown in Bahau, Negri Sembilan.

It is learnt that Baharuddin who leaves behind his wife Relow Alang Ko, 48 and three children was a former member of the Royal Malaysia Police football team.

Abdul Hamid said Norihan who underwent surgery yesterday to have three bullet slugs removed is in stable condition.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said he has directed police to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the incident.

“The government views this seriously and will not compromise with any party especially smugglers who carry out cross border crimes.” he said.

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