Malaysia police kill kidnappers and rescue Johor businessman in $10m ransom case

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

JOHOR BARU - Malaysia police have killed two kidnappers in a shootout in Johor and rescued a businessman held captive since last week for a $10 million ransom.

The shootout happened at an oil palm plantation in Mersing early Tuesday (Dec 24) morning, reported national news agency Bernama.

The 41-year-old victim, who was abducted by four armed men the previous Tuesday, sustained injuries on his back after being shot by one of the suspects, said Johor deputy police chief Deputy Comm Shafie Ismail

A police superintendent was also hurt, after being shot in the left leg and right thigh.

"The local businessman was believed to have been kidnapped by four masked men armed with two pistols after he left his home to eat at a shop in Taman Gaya, Ulu Tiram, at about 8.45am on Dec 17," Datuk Shafie told a press conference on Tuesday, referring to a suburb of state capital Johor Baru.

"The family then lodged a police report and informed the police that the kidnappers have demanded S$10 million in ransom from them," he said, as reported by Bernama.

Mr Shafie said the police then formed a special team to investigate the abduction.

On Monday night the team tracked down the location of the victim, who was being held in a black Honda City car at an oil palm estate in Mersing.

"When the police approached the car, they were fired upon by the suspects, resulting in one of the officers sustaining injuries. Police then returned fire before the duo fled deeper into the oil palm plantation," he said.

Police continued to track down the suspects and managed to locate them at around 2am on Tuesday.

"The duo, who were aware of the police's presence, fired several shots towards the authorities who responded in kind, resulting in the death of the two men," Mr Shafie said.

He said the investigation found that the suspects, aged 39 and 52, had used two semi-automatic 9mm and .45 calibre pistols.

They also had criminal records related to firearms, robberies, possession of deadly weapons in riots and misconduct under the Entertainment Act, and are believed to be part of a criminal group that was crippled by police early this year, he added.

"We are hunting down the remaining members of the gang whose leader was arrested early this year and has been charged in court," said Mr Shafie, adding that police believed the kidnappers were about to kill the victim when the authorities arrived at the location.

"During the six-day ordeal, the victim's hands were tied with iron chains and he was blindfolded. However, last night his blindfold was removed," he said.

Mr Shafie said that police believed the victim would have been killed whether the ransom was paid or not.

According to Bernama, the businessman who is involved in the plastics industry, is being treated at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.