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‘Assassinated by the hand of treachery’: Palestinian ‘rocket building’ expert linked to Hamas gunned down in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur police said two men on a motorcycle fired 10 shots at the 35-year-old victim, killing him on the spot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 April, 2018, 6:39pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 April, 2018, 11:51pm

A Palestinian man linked to Islamic group Hamas was shot dead in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday by two suspects believed to be connected to foreign intelligence services, authorities said.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim said two men on a motorcycle fired 10 shots at the 35-year-old victim, killing him on the spot.

“Preliminary investigations found four gunshot wounds on the victim’s body. Two bullet slugs were found at the scene of the incident,” Mazlan said in a statement.

When contacted later by Reuters, Mazlan declined to comment on reports that the victim was a member of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas or had been targeted by hitmen.

“It’s too early to say, we are still investigating all aspects.”

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Palestine’s ambassador to Malaysia Anwar al-Agha later identified the victim as Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an engineering lecturer. Witnesses at the scene had told him that the two suspects had “European features”, the ambassador told Reuters.

Hamas, which exercises de facto control over Gaza, said a “loyal” member was “assassinated” in Malaysia but stopped short of accusing Israel’s secret service of carrying out the killing. It described al-Batsh as a “scientist of Palestine’s youth scholars” who made “important contributions” to the organisation.

A Hamas statement said Batsh was “assassinated at treacherous hands on Saturday … as he walked for the dawn prayers”.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the victim had links with foreign intelligence and was active in pro-Palestinian non-governmental organisations, describing him as an expert in electrical engineering and “rocket-building”. He said the suspects were believed to be Europeans with links to a foreign intelligence agency, state news agency Bernama reported.

The victim could have been seen as “a liability for a country that is an enemy of Palestine”, Zahid was quoted as saying by Bernama.

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Batsh’s uncle Jamal al-Batsh, speaking to Reuters in the Jabalya town in northern Gaza Strip, said he believed the killing was the work of Israel’s Mossad espionage service. Officials in Israel declined to comment.

When asked who he blamed, he replied: “The Israeli Mossad. The Israeli Mossad stood behind the assassination of educated people and intellectuals because Israel knows Palestine will be liberated by scientists.”

“Therefore, they tracked this young educated man.”

Batsh was a lecturer at Universiti Kuala Lumpur, specialising in power engineering, according to the university.

A Palestinian in Malaysia who knew Batsh told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the victim was also an imam at a mosque close to his residence.

In recent weeks, tensions have been running high at the Gaza-Israel border as Palestinians have ramped up protests demanding the right to return to their former homeland.

Israel’s use of live fire has drawn international criticism but the Israeli government says it is protecting its borders and takes such action when protesters come too close to the border fence.

Additional reporting by Associated Press