Malaysian police on Thursday hunted for four gunmen who grabbed SGD$1.5 million (USD$1.09 million) in a raid at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, spraying bullets and wounding five people.
In Wednesday's drama, the gunmen ambushed two moneychangers and their two armed guards at the busy departure hall of the airport before opening fire and grabbing a bag containing the money. They escaped in two cars driven by another two men.
The heist is a major embarrassment for the country's airport authorities and came just a day after a passenger smuggled a fruit knife onto a Bangladeshi plane, forcing a security scare.
The police moved on Thursday to soothe concerns about Malaysia's rising security risks, saying that the latest case was an isolated one.
But they admitted their investigations could be hampered because the airport did not have security cameras at the crime scene.
"This case is isolated and the public should not perceive the airport as an unsafe location," Federal police deputy chief Ismail Omar was quoted by state Bernama news agency as saying.
A Nepali businessman and a policeman also suffered gunshot wounds in the shoot-out, which lasted for about five minutes. Police found 40 spent cartridges at the site.
The incident did not disrupt flights.
The airport, operated by state-controlled Malaysia Airports Holdings handled about 26 million passengers in 2007, up by some 10 percent from 2006.
A rising tide of petty crimes such as handbag snatching and burglary has made Malaysians feel unsafe in the last two years, with some analysts saying the government's failure to crush it played a key role in its stunning election reversal last month.
On Tuesday, a Bangladeshi plane made an emergency stop in Bangkok after a man pulled out a knife during the flight, causing panic. The GMG Airlines flight was enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Dhaka.