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Palestinian engineer 'killed by Mossad' in Malaysia, says family

Fadi Mohammed al-Batash was gunned down by two shooters outside a mosque near the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur
Batash was killed by two assailants according to local Malaysian police reports (Screengrab)

A revered Palestinian academic and engineer from Gaza was shot dead in Malaysia on Saturday morning outside a mosque, according to local police. 

Dr Fadi Mohammed al-Batash, 35, who was married and had three children, was shot by two people on a motorcycle near Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, local police said in a statement. 

Malaysian authorities said they were treating the murder as an act of terrorism and that they had begun an immediate investigation. 

Fired 10 shots, four of which hit the lecturer in the head and body. He died on the spot.

Kuala Lumpur police chief 

Police said that Batash, also known as Fadi Albatsh, was shot in the "body and head" and that CCTV footage showed him being targeted by assassins who had waited for him for almost 20 minutes.

Pictures on Palestinian media outlets showed that police had cordoned off the area where Batash died. Bullet shells can be seen lying on the floor. 

Batash's father told Al Jazeera it was suspected that Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, was behind Batash's murder. 

In a statement from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, his family said: "We accuse the Mossad of being behind the assassination."

An Israeli official refused to comment when contacted by AFP. 

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Seri Mazlan Lazim said one of two suspects on a high-powered motorcycle "fired 10 shots, four of which hit the lecturer in the head and body. He died on the spot."

The family said Batash, who had lived in Malaysia for 10 years, had intended to fly to Turkey for a science conference on energy. Israeli news outlet Haaretz said he was due to fly to Turkey this weekend.

Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip, said in a statement that Batash was one of its members.

Before travelling to Malaysia to take up a post as a lecturer at a private university, he was employed by the Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip. Israel's YNet news reported that he was a lecturer at the British-Malaysian Institute at the University of Kuala Lumpur. 

In a statement released on Twitter, Hamas described Batash as a "martyr" and a "distinguished scientist who has widely contributed to the energy sector".

Palestine's ambassador to Malaysia, Anwar H Al-Agha, told the New Straits Times that Batash was the second imam at the mosque near where he was killed. Jalan Gombak, where he is reported to have been killed, is immediately to the northeast of Kuala Lumpur. 

Batash was active on Twitter and voiced support for Palestinians in Gaza taking part in the Great March for Return, the series of protests held near the Gaza-Israeli border since the end of March demanding the right of Palestinian refugees and their dependents to return to Israel.

As of 20 April, at least 43 Palestinians had been reported killed and more than 4,000 injured in the protests, which are scheduled to continue until 15 May. No Israeli casualties have been reported.

Batash recently retweeted several eulogies commemorating journalist and photographer Yaser Murtaja, a 30-year-old Palestinian who left behind a wife and one child when Israeli security forces shot him dead when he was covering the Great March for Return protest on 6 April.

The Mossad is believed to have assassinated Palestinian militants and scientists in the past, but it has never confirmed such operations.

Hamas has accused Mossad of assassinating one of its drone experts - Mohamed Zouari - in Tunisia in 2016, and the spy agency is also believed to have been behind the 2010 murder of top Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a Dubai hotel

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