Fear of gangsters keeps Bukit Bintang residents at blast site silent

Police work at the scene of a grenade attack outside a shopping centre at Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Police work at the scene of a grenade attack outside a shopping centre at Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It was life - or nightlife - as usual in Bukit Bintang some 18 hours after a grenade exploded, killing a car jockey and injuring 12 others.

However, there was an air of fear as locals in the back alleys near the Sun Complex clammed up, saying they feared retaliation by gangsters.

Police believe the incident, when two grenades were thrown in front of the complex early Thursday morning, was part of a conflict involving gangsters.

Business was running as usual in front of Sun Complex at 8.30pm on Thursday with nightclubs and a coffee shop behind the Royale Bintang Hotel staying open. About 20 customers were seen dining at the coffee shop.

Traffic in the area also appeared brisk.

However, the people there were not talking.

"If my face appears in the paper, I will surely kena (be hit). I can't speak. They'll come after me," said a security guard when approached by The Star.

He was one of many people standing behind a police cordon set up in the area, watching as forensic officers combed the area for clues.

The second grenade was detonated hours after the attack by police, throwing a plume of smoke into the air.

After police left the scene at about 2pm, some of the businesses at the complex began to open up, with locals walking close up to the crime scene, taking photos.

A woman said she was asleep when she heard the first blast go off at 4.25am on Thursday.

"I was at my flat, sleeping. I only heard the blast," she said. She walked away when asked more about the subject, dragging her husband along as she went.

An elderly woman said she owned a medicine shop near the Cherry Blossom night club.

"My window is cracked, but my things are all okay. I think it (the situation around here) will be okay," she said.

Asked if fights were common in the area, she said that this was the first she had heard of it.

"I think this was just a personal matter," she said.

Local businessman U. Thamotharon, 48, said a nearby police beat base had been left empty for the past three or four years, about the same time prostitutes who used to be there moved elsewhere.

"But even if they (the police) were here, how can this club still be open until 4am in the morning? What is KL City Hall doing?" he asked."This is the centre, the heart of KL. This has to stop," he said.

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