KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Two unidentified men shot and killed a 35-year-old Palestinian man in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday morning, Malaysian and Palestinian authorities said.
The Islamist group Hamas, which exercises de facto control over Gaza, said one of its members was “assassinated” in Malaysia but stopped short of accusing Israel’s secret service for carrying out the killing.
The two men on a motorcycle fired ten shots at the victim, killing him on the spot, Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim said in statement.
“Preliminary investigations found four gunshot wounds on the victim’s body. Two bullet slugs were found at the scene of the incident,” Mazlan said.
Palestine’s ambassador to Malaysia Anwar Al Agha later identified the victim as Palestinian Fadi al-Batsh, an engineering lecturer, but declined to say if he was a member of Hamas. Witnesses at the scene had told him that the two suspects had “European features”, the ambassador told Reuters.
When contacted by Reuters, Mazlan declined to comment on reports that al-Batsh was a member of Hamas or had been targeted by hitmen.
“It’s too early to say, we are still investigating all aspects.”
A Hamas statement said al-Batsh was “assassinated at treacherous hands on Saturday…as he walked for the dawn prayers.”
Officials in Israel declined to comment.
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.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur and Nidal Al Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)