KUALA LUMPUR: An autopsy was being carried out on Sunday (Apr 22) on the body of a Palestinian professor who was gunned down in what his family claim was an assassination by Israel's Mossad spy agency.
Fadi Mohammad al-Batsh, 35, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Saturday, according to Malaysian authorities.
He was walking from his high-rise apartment to dawn prayers at a local mosque in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Gombak when he was shot by two gunmen riding a motorcycle, officials added.
At the crime scene, police markers indicated 14 bullets had been sprayed at the victim, some of them hitting a wall. An iron grille hit by a bullet was dented.
Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted by the state-run Bernama news agency as saying Batsh was "an electrical engineer and an expert at making rockets".
In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, the victim's family said: "We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination."
Hamas said Batsh, described as a research scientist specialising in energy issues, was one of its members.
Malaysia's police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said a task force has been formed to investigate the killing but would not speculate on the motive or whether foreign assassins were involved.
Photos of the two suspects provided by witnesses showed they looked like Europeans but police could not confirm they were in fact from Europe, he told a news conference Sunday afternoon.
When asked if there was evidence of foreign involvement in the killing, he said: "It is still premature to conclude.
"We want to ensure a complete probe. We are still investigating the motive. I urge people not to make any conclusion."
No arrests have been made so far and the murder weapon has not been recovered, he said as he appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Palestinian representative to Malaysia Anwar al-Asha said Fadi's body will be taken back to the Palestinian territories for burial after it is handed back to the family.
"We are now talking to the handling company to make the arrangements," he told AFP.
Mohammad Shedad, 17, a student and a relative of the victim, also blamed Mossad for the killing.
"It is definitely the work of Mossad. Fadi is a very clever person, anyone who is clever is a threat to Israel," he told AFP outside the victim's Malaysian apartment.
"Fadi is a Hamas member and knows how to make rockets. So (Israel) think he is dangerous."
Batsh leaves a wife and three young children. He had lived in Malaysia for the past 10 years.
Ahmad Abu Bakar, 33, a foreign student studying in Malaysia, said he had known the victim for two years.
"He is friendly and he preaches good things. He never preached any hatred. I am shocked by the killing," he said.
It was the second high-profile killing of a foreigner in Malaysia in just over a year.
In February 2017 assassins smeared the banned VX nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, killing him within minutes.