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[Groop]"The Rock" in Malaysia
You've seen the movie "The Rock". Here, it happened in real life
Police ring hideout of weapons theft gang after reported shootout
KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 (AFP) - Malaysian police
and troops exchanged fire early Tuesday with the gang which sparked a
national security alert by stealing more than 100 guns from an army
camp, Bernama news agency said.
It said thousands of soldiers and police were
surrounding their hideout near the town of Sauk in the northern state of
The official agency, quoting police sources,
said police and troops taking part in a huge hunt for the gang were
shot at when they approached its hideout. It said the pre-dawn
shootout lasted 90 minutes but had no details of any injuries or
A defence ministry official who declined to be
identified confirmed there was an exchange of fire. "Shots have been
fired in an area where our people are operating. One of our men got
injured," he said but had no other details. But local police chief
Superintendent Hamzah Samsudin told AFP there had been no shootout in
Sauk is 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of
the town of Gerik where an army camp was raided early Sunday by a group
posing as senior officers. Police and troops homed in on the area after
the discovery of the three Pajero jeeps in army colours which the
Bernama said a school had been closed and
turned into a combined operations centre and police were closing local
roads to all but urgent traffic. The 15 men, dressed in camouflage
uniforms and berets with senior rank badges, raided an isolated army
outpost and then moved on to the camp.
Posing as an inspection team, they pulled rank
to get past sentries and escaped with a small arsenal. The total haul
from the two raids was 94 M-16 rifles, two Steyr rifles, five grenade
launchers, four heavy machine guns and six light machine guns, plus
thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Defence Minister Najib Razak was due to visit
the Gerik camp Tuesday afternoon. He has come under fire over the
incident, which deeply embarrassed the army.
The pro-government New Straits Times accused
the military of negligence and said that ultimately Najib should be
held accountable. "Anything less would be untenable, unacceptable and
scandalous," its editorial added.
The Star, in a commentary entitled "We must not
shoot ourselves in the foot again," said Malaysians could be forgiven
"if they demand answers to the fiasco." It said the military had
promised to strengthen security last year after four Steyr rifles were
stolen from an another army base.
The rifles ended up in the hands of the
notorious "Steyr Gang." In January police shot dead four members of the
gang but not before they had robbed nine banks and murdered a security
Defence analysts say the modern weapons will
find ready buyers and were probably stolen to order, with regional
guerrilla groups, pirates or drug traffickers among possible customers.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said late
Monday he feared the weapons might be sold to certain quarters in need
of them. "We know that weapons are something with good markets," he
Mahathir said the government had ordered
tighter security following earlier weapons thefts from army and police
bases but the latest cases were different. "This is because the culprits
wore army fatigues and (some) used the rank of lieutenant-colonel...high
ranking. The rank and file were overawed," he said.
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