KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – One man was killed and a dozen other people wounded early Thursday when a hand grenade exploded in a tourist section of Malaysia’s capital in what police suspect was related to a gangland turf battle.
Police said a parking attendant who was the most seriously hurt later succumbed to his injuries in hospital following the pre-dawn blast outside a pub in the bustling Bukit Bintang neighbourhood, a popular area for shopping, dining and nightlife.
“We believe it was a hand grenade that was placed in front of a pub,” Kuala Lumpur police chief Tajudin Mohamad Isa told AFP, noting that an unexploded grenade also was found.
Zainol Samah, police chief of the district where the incident took place, told AFP there were 13 total casualties.
In addition to the parking lot attendant, who was Malaysian, eight other Malaysians were hurt along with two Chinese nationals, one Singaporean, and one Thai, he said.
Other police officials have claimed 14 total casualties, including the deceased.
Police said the motive in the incident is being investigated, but another top police official said a gangland feud was suspected.
A heavily damaged minivan could be seen at the scene of the incident, which was roped off by a tight police presence.
Such incidents are generally rare in Muslim-majority Malaysia, but public concern has steadily grown over rising crime.
That concern spiked last year with an explosion of gun violence that authorities blamed on rival gangs battling over turf, prompting a tough anti-crime crackdown.
Authorities also have warned recently of the potential for extremist militant violence, after saying scores of Malaysians had joined the bloody civil war in Syria.
Officials fear they will become radicalised there by the Islamic State (IS) group and bring back violent extremist views or inspire anti-Western attacks by supporters in Malaysia, where a moderate brand of Islam prevails.
Police said in August they had arrest 19 people in an amateurish IS-inspired plot to carry out a wave of bombings in Malaysia.
Police officials have so far said there was no indication of terrorist involvement in Thursday’s grenade blast.