Malaysia deploys special police force to guard Kuala Lumpur airport after shootout


By JULIA ZAPPEI, AP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia deployed a specially trained police force to patrol its main international airport Thursday after a brazen armed robbery last month triggered worries about security lapses.

A team of 141 personnel skilled in guarding high-risk areas such as government buildings began making its rounds at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, a federal police spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.

The security beef-up comes after robbers opened fire April 9 on two airport currency exchange workers and escaped with a bag of Singapore currency worth US$1 million (€650,000).

The new round-the-clock patrols will “protect our country’s image in the eyes of the world,” national police chief Musa Hassan said in a statement late Wednesday.

“The public and visitors to the airport are advised not to feel troubled by the force’s presence because it is meant to ensure safety at the airport,” Musa said.

An elite police squad trained in counterterrorism measures has also been placed on standby to respond if needed at the airport.

Previously, civilian security guards were the main presence at the airport. Shortly after last month’s shootout, a dozen police officers were stationed there.

The robbers, who fired handguns, fled in getaway cars after wounding five people. Four suspects were arrested but later released because of insufficient evidence.

A closed circuit camera did not record footage of the robbery because it was set on standby and could not be switched on fast enough, airport officials have said.

Kamaruddin Mohamad Ismail, an airport management official, said Thursday that officials will spend about 2.2 million ringgit (US$670,000; €440,000) to upgrade more than 1,300 security cameras.