Maritime officer loses sight in shootout, another injured

Eastern Sabah security on high alert after MMEA officers attacked

08 Apr 2024 04:06pm
Hamid (standing, second from right) while visiting the injured officer. - Photo by Sinar
Hamid (standing, second from right) while visiting the injured officer. - Photo by Sinar

TAWAU - A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency member who was injured in a gunfire exchange in Kunak's waters on Sunday has been left blind in the left eye as a result of the incident.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency Director-General Admiral Datuk Hamid Mohd Amin said that the officer, identified as, Zainal Abad Komel, 45, underwent successful surgery at Tawau Hospital and is currently in stable condition.

"I visited him earlier, Alhamdulillah, but due to the incident, I want to inform you that it has been confirmed by the doctors that he will lose sight in his left eye because they could not save the nerve near his eye due to the bullet.

"He will lose sight in his left eye permanently, but Alhamdulillah, his right eye is fine.

"So, this incident is very sensitive for us," he told a press conference here earlier today.

Hamid said another member, Leftenant Prayrie De Cuella Jimin, 35, who was injured in both hands, is also in stable condition.

On the suspect, Hamid noted that the individual had previously been investigated for involvement in cross-border crime activities in areas like Suba Duyung and Batik Parang.

"We found them smuggling goods. The police has identified the suspects, and we collaborated with the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) and the police using the involved assets.

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"The assets involved from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and the Joint Task Force 2 (ATB2) comprised two ships and 21 boats, while the police from all divisions organised the movement of five patrol ships and 26 patrol and combat boats, and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency itself involved four maritime ships and 15 patrol and combat boats.

"Our focus now is involving the Lahad Datu sector to Semporna, Kunak, and Tawau under Esscom," he said.

Meanwhile, Esscom Commander Datuk Victor Sanjos revealed that one of the suspects involved was identified as a foreign national who is also listed as a wanted person.

"Of course, the suspect is on our wanted list, but I cannot reveal his identity as efforts to track and capture him are ongoing.

"One suspect was identified through eyewitnesses from officers involved in this battle, while two others are still being identified," he said.

He also reiterated that his team is mobilising all assets in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) to apprehend the suspects.

It was reported that two Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency members were injured when three suspects fired gunshots at Banggi 48 boat in the waters of Kunak.

In the 8.40am incident, Zainal Abad was injured in the left eye while another crew member, Prayrie, was injured in both hands while engaging in gunfire exchange with the criminals.

During the incident, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency team conducted Special Fence Ops in the waters before detecting a boat with armed suspects.