Anti-tank rocket blast in Malaysia claims fourth victim as soldier's wife dies

ALOR SETAR - The anti-tank rocket blast in Gurun has claimed a fourth victim when Sharifah Azlina Hashim succumbed to her severe injuries.

The 30-year-old, who was six months' pregnant with her third child, was pronounced dead at 9.23am yesterday at the intensive care unit of Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani where she had been fighting for her life since the incident at her home.

The explosion had killed her husband Korporal Ayub Hashim, 34, their daughter Nor Hidayu Shahirah, eight, and their neighbour Mohd Aqif Lokman Mohd Shahrizal, five.

The couple's five-year-old son, Muhammad Idzham Syahmi, escaped with minor injuries.

It was earlier learnt that Kpl Ayub, a soldier at the army's Hobart Camp about 8km away from his home, was grinding an 84mm high-explosive anti-tank weapon at the back of his house in Taman Mesra Ria II when it was accidentally let off.

He, Nor Hidayu Shahirah and Mohd Aqif Lokman died on the spot in the blast which could be heard a kilometre away and damaged many other houses and two vehicles.

When met outside the Forensic Department at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital here, where Sharifah Azlina's body was sent for a post-mortem, her father, retired fisherman Hashim Din, 60, said his daughter would be put to rest at the Masjid Lana Bulu burial ground in Jerlun together with her husband.

He said he last saw his eldest daughter when she visited him at his house in Kupang, Baling.

"I received a phone call on the night of the incident.

"There is nothing I can do but I'm glad that my grandson (Muhammad Idzham Syahmi) is staying strong even after being told of his mother's death," Hashim said, adding that he would be looking after the boy.

Muhammad Idzham Syahmi said he was watching television when he heard a loud explosion from the back of their home.

"I ran to check on what happened and saw my mum on the floor with a lot of blood," he told reporters at the hospital.

Acting state police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Zakaria Yusof said at a press conference earlier yesterday that police had found fragments of the rocket in the vicinity of the blast area, adding that investigations were ongoing.

He said he believed that there could be more than one bomb that exploded during the incident.