Police may boost patrols after shootings

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 12:00am

More police officers may be placed on patrol after two security guards were shot in separate armed robberies in one week, Police Commissioner Tsang Yam-pui said yesterday.

Mr Tsang was speaking after visiting security guard Ng Kar-man, 26, who was shot twice by robbers as they tried to steal a cash box containing $1 million at an off-course betting centre in Tsuen Wan on Monday night.

Four suspected mainland robbers, two carrying revolvers, were arrested about 40 minutes later when police mounted an ambush at Prince Edward MTR station as the gang tried to escape.

The robbery came less than a week after security guard Zafar Iqbal Khan, 31, was shot dead in a bank robbery in Tsuen Wan last Wednesday. His killer is still at large.

'We are concerned about the number of cases involving the use of firearms recently. We will . . . liaise very closely with Guangdong public security authorities to see if we can strengthen our intelligence exchange system,' Mr Tsang said.

'Also, we will . . . see if we can deploy even more uniformed and plain-clothes officers to the front line to prevent this type of crime.'

Police yesterday arrested two SAR men and a mainland woman visitor in connection with Monday's robbery. They arrested another two SAR men and a mainland woman on Monday night in Shamshuipo and also seized two stun guns in a raid on the BP International House hotel in Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

Investigators said the six were suspected to have offered assistance to the robbers.

The four robbery suspects, from Guangxi province, were among mainland visitors in a tour group which arrived in Hong Kong last week.

A police source said: 'We will seek help from mainland police officials to find out more background about the four armed robbers and check whether the two seized revolvers were smuggled into Hong Kong from the mainland.'

Mr Tsang and Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee defended the actions of the officers who stormed an MTR train to arrest the suspects. They said criticism that the officers had caused panic among commuters and put passengers at risk was unfair, and said the swift action may have prevented a worse scenario.

Mrs Ip said: 'Police have been well trained in how to deal with arrests in crowded environments and would not endanger public safety in their operations.'

Mr Tsang said the decision to arrest the four suspects was the best and most appropriate action. 'Decisions must be made quickly at times like that,' he said. 'If we hadn't arrested them in time, the situation could have developed into something worse.'

Their comments came after an MTR passenger called a radio talk show to complain that the police officers had caused panic during the operation.

She said that when the train stopped at Prince Edward station, police were taking aim with revolvers and rifles. An announcement instructed passengers to get out of the train and warned of possible gunfire, the woman said.