KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's fire and rescue department has denied reports that one of its firefighters, who was seriously injured during Tuesday's violence near Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Selangor, was hit by a fire engine.
"Some people claimed they have evidence to show that Muhammad Adib was run down. We had eight firemen there, they know what happened," the New Straits Times cited Mohammad Hamdan Wahid, the department's director-general, as saying on Wednesday (Nov 28).
Muhammad Adib, 24, was part of a team deployed to extinguish burning vehicles during the second night of violence outside the Hindu temple.
He suffered multiple injuries, including broken ribs and bruises on his chest and abdomen, and was placed on life support early on Wednesday morning, although his surgeon said that his condition was "stable".
“I would like to stress that the case is still under police investigation, and I do not want to interfere with the probe. The fire department is giving our cooperation but do not make baseless claims," Mohammad Hamdan said.
“The fireman who was allegedly shown in the video as being run down was not Muhammad Adib. The fireman in question, Mohd Hazim Mohd Rahimi, is still with us now, and he was not run over."
He added that the department will lodge a police report on the matter.
The chairman of the temple's task force earlier said that the firefighter was hit by a fire engine, and not beaten by rioters as reported.
Chairman S Ramaji said video footage showed the crowd helping to rescue the firefighter.
He claimed that the firefighter, Muhammad Adib, had alighted from the vehicle before it reversed suddenly.
“Members of the public who were at the scene quickly rushed the victim to the hospital,” he said.
A 30-second video of the incident has gone viral online.
“You can see from the video that the fireman was hit by the fire engine when it reversed suddenly and he was thrown against a fire rescue van that was behind the fire engine,” said VK Ragu, secretary of the temple task force.
He added that the crowd had tried to alert the fire engine.
According to Mohammad Hamdan, Muhammad Adib was dragged out of the front passenger seat of the vehicle and assaulted.
He added that the rest of the team did not realise this until they reached the Subang Jaya fire station.
“When they tried to call his mobile phone, members of the public who answered informed them that the victim had been rushed to the hospital,” he said.
"WE ARE TRYING OUR BEST TO FIND THE CULPRIT"
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday promised that the police will conduct a thorough investigation.
“We are trying our best to find the culprit. We do not have much evidence but the police will conduct a thorough investigation to find out who was responsible,” he said at a press conference at the National Heart Institute after visiting the injured firefighter.
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Referring to the riots, Mahathir said: “We can demonstrate but it should be peaceful. This was not a demonstration. This was something to kill people. They came with parangs and all (kinds of) weapons.”
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he has asked the Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun to use various means to track down the perpetrators.
“Police’s investigation is ongoing and we will use the forensic service to get fingerprints on the door of the Fire and Rescue Department’s vehicles to track down those involved.
“We will ensure Muhammad Adib receives justice ... we will identify those who attacked him and bring them to justice,” he said.
A total of 30 people have been arrested in connection with the riots, up from 21 on Tuesday.