GEORGE TOWN - Police gunned down five Gang 04 members who are linked to at least 10 murders in a shootout at an apartment in Sungai Nibong.
Ballistic tests on the three firearms recovered from them showed that the five were involved in at least 12 shooting cases in three states.
Police believe they have now solved at least 10 murder cases in Penang (seven), Kedah (two) and Negri Sembilan (one), and two attempted murders in Penang.
The dead have been identified as J. Gobinath, 31, R. Ramesh, 27, N. Rakan, 25, M. Suresh, 25, and M. Gobinath, 21.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police laid an ambush at the apartment block at about 4.30am yesterday before moving to the unit on the 11th floor where the suspects were staying.
"We were shot at first and we shot back in defence. This subsequently led to the death of the five men," he said.
Khalid said that four of the gang members had multiple criminal records for drug offences, causing hurt using a weapon and rioting, but none of them were Emergency Ordinance detainees.
One of them was the mastermind behind the crimes.
"Our investigations showed that they were either hired killers or acted in revenge over the shooting cases which they had been involved in since last year.
"Ballistic tests on the firearms showed that they were used in at least 12 murder or attempted murder cases.
"We believe there are remnants of this gang still at large. The operation to track them down is ongoing," Khalid told a press conference at the state police contingent headquarters in Penang Road yesterday.
"We have been monitoring their activities for some time. They were very mobile and would travel all over the country to commit murder," he added.
A recent spate of shootings in Penang and various parts of the country has sparked speculation of a gang war.
On Aug 8, K. Veerappan, a 37-year-old scrap dealer believed to be a Gang 36 member, was shot dead when he stopped his car at a traffic light in Anson Road.