KOTA KINABALU: A Filipino man wanted by the police for his involvement in sea robbery and kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) activities was killed in a shootout in waters off Kunak, early Friday morning.
The man identified as Masurati Insawani @ Tarab, 50, has been arrested previously for robbery but police had to release him due to the lack of evidence.
He was killed this morning when trying to escape from the authority at 2.30am in waters near Pulau Burung.
Prior to the shooting, a team led by Kunak police chief Mohd Nasaruddin M Nasir conducted a special operation dubbed Op Sea Hunter after receiving a tip-off on the man’s suspicious movement.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim confirmed that Tarab was involved in a KFR group.
“We know him well because he is wanted by police to facilitate investigation over several cases involving robbery against fishermen at sea,” he told reporters in a press conference at Kunak police headquarters.
“This achievement is a testament that police remain committed in safeguarding the waters.
“We also believe that based on preliminary investigation, we have successfully solved several robbery cases and cut off the communication between the KFR group and informers, who are spying for them,” he added.
In the incident, Tarab, who was on board a boat, had sped off and opened fire at the police when they tried to approach him.
This prompted the police to fire back and a shootout ensued. Police, however, managed to chase the boat and found Tarab dead with a gunshot wound on his chest.
In the event, police seized a .38 revolver, three bullets, and a sword.
According to a tweet post by Sabah police commissioner Datuk Ramli Din, Tarab was involved in Kunak and Semporna sea robberies.
Noor Rashid said Kunak police had initiated Op Sea Hunter since early this year in its effort to combat sea robbery, adding that the operation is aimed at gathering intelligence on those involved in the crime.
“Sometime, there are robbery cases that have gone unreported especially when the victims are Pala’u nomads. They don’t have documents and therefore they don’t lodge a report.
“However, we continue to engage with the maritime community and fishermen so we are able to combat sea robbery incidents,” he said.