Victims say they were beaten, forced to drink chloroform
Police suspect notorious Mamak Gang, which also dons uniforms and strikes in large numbers
RIVER Kumar had just arrived at Penang's Free Commercial Zone when the robbers, who pulled off one of the biggest heists in Malaysia's history, were leaving.
One of the injured workers being taken to hospital. -- SIN CHEW DAILY, CHINA PRESS
The 26-year-old was still in a state of shock when he spoke to the New Straits Times of his close encounter with the gang of robbers who scooted with RM50 million ($21m) worth of Intel microchips from a cargo complex near Penang airport.
'They spoke in Malay and were very rough. One of them held a parang to my neck and threatened to kill me,' he said.
He was handing his declaration forms to the Customs officers when the robbers struck.
'Several of them walked up to the guardpost and, without any warning, started assaulting us.
'The robbers ordered me to lie on the road,' he told the newspaper later.
Recalling the raid, one of the workers, Mr Mohamad Sani Hashim, 26, said a robber held a parang to his neck and warned him not to raise the alarm as the other robbers started loading the loot.
DRAGGED TO TOILET
The suspects being arrested and police officers stepping up vehicle checks at the complex. -- SIN CHEW DAILY, CHINA PRESS
'I was dragged to the toilet where I was forced to drink chloroform-laced liquid.
'I felt sick after that,' he told the New Straits Times at the Penang Hospital yesterday.
'They were ruthless. I was punched and kicked a few times before they tied my hands and blindfolded me,' he said.
Mr Mohd Sani was working with 16 other people when the robbers struck. He said some of the robbers used two-way radios to communicate with others.
He said he overheard one of the robbers directing the others to take only the cartridges containing microchips and pallets of computer motherboards.
Another victim, Mr Roslan Azimi, 28, said he saw a group of people, some wearing ski masks and wielding parangs.
'One of them came straight for me and punched me hard on my face.
'I fell to the ground. Another then came over and kicked me in the abdomen before tying me with cables.
'I heard my friends groaning in pain when the robbers attacked us,' he said.
The police have since rounded up four suspects and suspect the robbery could be the work of the dreaded Mamak Gang.
They say the similarities in the robbery with the RM10m gold-bar heist in Subang 16 years ago are striking.
The Mamak Gang, which also struck in large numbers, used police uniforms and made their victims swallow sleeping pills in the robbery at the cargo complex of the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah International Airport in 1990.
SENT IN CONSIGNMENTS
The microchips and computer components that were stolen this time were sent from a factory in Penang to the warehouse in three consignments on Sunday.
They were to be flown out to several countries in the Asia-Pacific region on Monday. The robbers struck at 2.30am, less than two hours after the last consignment arrived at the warehouse.
The robbers arrived in two 12-m long container lorries with the drivers and attendants in both vehicles dressed in Rela security guard uniforms.
They allegedly drove through the MAS Free Zone lane at the checkpoint without being stopped and made their way to the warehouse.
Four robbers got out and immediately rounded up all 17 workers there.
They told the workers they were there to conduct urine checks for drug abuse and to weed out illegals.
When the workers demanded to see identification documents, the four opened the two containers and 16 masked men, some brandishing parangs, leaped out to confront the victims.
After loading the two containers, the robbers destroyed several close-circuit television cameras and took away the tapes.