Terrorism Not Ruled Out in Grenade Blast at Malaysian Nightclub: Police

Haireez Azeem Azizi
Kuala Lumpur
160628-MY-nightclub-attack-620.jpg Injured patrons of the Movida nightclub in Puchong are treated following a grenade attack, June 28, 2016.
Courtesy Royal Malaysian Police

Updated at 3:15 p.m. ET on 2016-06-28

A hand grenade exploded at a night club near Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, injuring eight patrons during the screening of a Euro 2016 football match, Malaysian authorities said.

Police have not ruled out terrorism in the early morning explosion at the Movida nightclub in Puchong, a town that lies south of the Malaysian capital, but said the attack likely stemmed from a “business rivalry” between organized criminal gangs, or may have been an act of vengeance.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian man who is fighting in the Middle East for Islamic State (IS) posted a message on Facebook after the blast, saying that members of the extremist group were responsible for hurling the grenade at the nightclub.

Malaysia’s police chief said he had not ruled out the possibility that militants were responsible.

“Let the police investigate first,” Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told BenarNews, when a reporter showed him a screenshot of the message posted on the social media site by Abu Hamza Al-Fateh, a Malaysian IS fighter better known as Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi. Wanndy’s Facebook page is no longer visible.

However, Abd Rahim Jaafar, the deputy police chief in Selangor state, where the explosion occurred, said state police had ruled out terrorism and were concentrating on rivalries among local gangsters or some kind of vendetta as a motive.

Police were examining footage from security cameras at the club to identify possible suspects, he said.

“People are urged to refrain from speculating on terrorism-related assumptions, as our thorough investigations are ongoing,” Abd Rahim told BenarNews, saying that the an initial probe revealed that a grenade was tossed from the roadside.

The head of the Royal Malaysia Police’s counter-terrorism special branch, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, echoed this word of caution on speculating about whether the grenade attack was a an act of terror.

“Our investigation is looking at all corners … At the moment, the investigation is still ongoing,” the Malaysian daily Berita Harian quoted Ayob as saying.

‘Blessed attack’

The explosion took place at around 2:15 a.m. Tuesday as football fans had gathered on the patio at Movida to watch the Round of 16 match between Italy and Spain, police said.

“Two fighters from the Malaysia wilayat have instigated a first blessed attack using a grenade in central Kuala Lumpur by targeting a nightclub which was filled with infidel patrons,” Wanddy said in his message on Facebook before his page was removed.

“The attack left several victims injured and has caused damage to the club which did not respect the month of Ramadan by allowing such activities. … Muslims are advised to stay away from these places of vice or becoming non-faithful to avoid being targeted,” his message said.

If IS indeed carried out the attack, it would more likely have been carried out by “sympathizers rather than hard-core IS,” said Mohd. Azizuddin Mohd. Sani, a visiting professor of political science at Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Wanndy is known to Malaysian authorities. Last year, he and another alleged Malaysian IS member, Mohd Faris Anuar, reportedly took part in the filming of an IS execution video. In December, Faris was reported killed while fighting alongside IS in Anbar, Iraq.

Additionally, at least three IS sympathizers from Malaysia have been charged with funding jihad activities by Wanndy and others.

Malaysian police have arrested at least 193 suspects with alleged links to IS, 64 of whom have been charged in court, according to police statistics.

Club to reopen Wednesday

An employee of Movida bar, lounge and nightclub said he was lucky to have emerged from the blast unharmed.

“The explosion occurred shortly after I left a customer and headed to the cashier,” the employee, who requested anonymity, told BenarNews.

He said the damage to the property was minor with a few “mirror barricades and billboards shattered.”

The site where a grenade exploded at the Movida nightclub, June 28, 2016. [Haireez Azeem Azizi/BenarNews]

The club is to re-open for business as usual on Wednesday.

The injured patrons, four men and four women, including a female Chinese national, were sent to two hospitals – a government hospital in Serdang and a private hospital in Sunway for treatment of injuries caused by glass fragments, according to authorities.

Hata Wahari and Fahirul N. Ramli and contributed to this report.


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