Thu, 23 May 2024


Kunak shootout: MMEA man loses eye
Published on: Tuesday, April 09, 2024
By: Lagatah Toyos
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Kunak shootout: MMEA man loses eye
Hamid (centre) and others visiting Zainal at the Tawau Hospital, yesterday.
TAWAU: Marine Petty Officer Zainal Abad Komel, 45, said he could only utter “Allahu Akhbar” before immediately turning his face to avoid being shot when he saw a gun pointed directly at him in the waters of Kg Pangi, Kunak, on Sunday.

He dodged the first shot. However, the second hit under his left eye, causing blood to spurt out.

Zainal, who captained Banggi Boat 48, is confirmed to be blinded in his left eye following a two-hour bullet removal procedure at Tawau Hospital.

Recalling the 8.40am incident, he said his team approached the outboard-engine boat carrying the three male suspects with the intention of helping, thinking they had run aground.

“Everything happened quickly and we didn’t even expect the suspect to pull out a gun... The load of the suspect’s boat could not be identified because it was covered with canvas,” he said, Monday.

The incident that he experienced for the first time in his 19 years of service, however, did not discourage Zainal from continuing his duties as a security officer.

He said if he is healthy today, he wants to participate in the hunt for the suspect.

“I accept the condition of my left eye which is now permanently disabled (blind) due to this incident,” he said.

According to him, his family in Negeri Sembilan has been informed about his condition and his younger brother is expected to arrive in Tawau today (Tuesday).

Another injured member, Prayrie De Cuella Jimin, 35, who hails from Kudat, said he fired five shots at the suspect in self-defence.

Prayrie, who was wounded in both arms from ricochet, said he saw one suspect lying on the boat floor but was not sure if he was hit or taking cover.

“The suspect’s boat was also unable to move for about two minutes, before finally managing to escape to the shallow water area, making it difficult for our boat to enter,” he said.

Esscom Commander Datuk Victor Sanjos said one of the three suspects is on the Esscom wanted list.

He said he could not reveal the identity of the suspect because efforts to locate, track and make arrests are still ongoing.

“What I can reveal is that all the suspects are foreigners and have already been identified.

“Currently, we are mobilising all the assets in the Esszone to track and arrest them,” he said in a press conference together with the Director-General of Maritime Malaysia, Admiral (M) Datuk Hamid Mohd Amin, after visiting the injured personnel at the Tawau Hospital.

Hamid said Zainal will be admitted at the Tawau Hospital for another week before being discharged, while Prayrie was released after receiving treatment.

Currently, he said Esscom together with the Royal Malaysian Navy (TLDM) and the Joint Task Force 2 (ATB 2) are actively tracking the three suspects.

“We are using all our efforts and available assets to track down the suspects and hope the maritime community will come forward and provide information.

“We will also not compromise, including the possibility of local residents trying to protect criminals,” he said.

Hamid said the suspects fled towards Semporna and believed to be in the Suba Duyung and Batik Parang areas between 4pm and 6pm to change the 40 horsepower outboard engine and then in the Matamanuk area at 7pm.

Meanwhile, police have identified one of the three men who shot and injured the two MMEA personnel.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain said police are still trying to identify the other two suspects and could not yet reveal the nationality of the gunmen.

He said one of the injured MMEA personnel had undergone surgery to remove a bullet from his eye and was in stable condition.

“It appears to be a case of robbers at sea preying on those returning from Kunak to Semporna by boat for the festive celebration,” he said.

Razarudin said the marine police had been directed to step up patrols following the shooting incident, which happened at 8.40am.

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Zainal Abad Komel


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