KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police said they have shot dead five alleged gang members and arrested 200 people under a rarely used law in a crackdown on a crime wave that has swept the country.
Police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the five men killed in a pre-dawn shoot-out in Penang on Monday were involved in 10 gun murder cases in Penang, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan.
"One of the five killed is believed to be the leader of the group but there are still other members of the gang that we are still hunting down," he told local reporters.
Local media reported that the men, aged between 23 and 27, were allegedly members of the notorious Gang 04, one of the country's larger criminal groups.
Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said police had raided a rented apartment in Sungai Nibong, Penang, at 4.30am on Monday, following a tip-off.
"Once the police stormed into the house, they were shot at and the police returned fire," he was quoted as saying by Bernama. "After the shoot-out ended, police found five men dead in different rooms."
He said the police also found three pistols in the apartment.
The crackdown comes after a wave of shootings around the country, which killed a prominent banker and seriously injured the chief of a crime watchdog.
Since last Saturday, police have set up roadblocks from midnight to 5am daily around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Called Ops Cantas, or "Cut-Off Operation", it will be extended nationwide.
Tan Sri Khalid said police have nabbed 200 suspects since last Saturday under the rarely used Crime Prevention Act, which enables the police to detain suspects without trial for about 70 days to assist with investigations, provided there is court approval.