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Friday, March 31, 2017

RMAF crew pretend to be civilians to bring home Malaysians

Air force personnel relate how they were able to breathe easily only after business jet used to 'rescue' 9 Malaysians left North Korean air space.
Hasrizan-Kamis_rmaf_600
PETALING JAYA: Four Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilots pretended to be civilian pilots when they arrived in North Korea yesterday on a special mission to bring home nine Malaysians, The Star reported.
This was revealed by one of them, Lt Col Hasrizan Kamis, who spoke on the mission to enter North Korea and bring home the three Malaysian embassy staff and their family members, all of whom had been prohibited from leaving Pyongyang since March 7.
“The crew had pretended to be civilian pilots to stay on the safe side,” he said referring to the two pilots, two co-pilots and two quartermasters who flew to the North Korean capital in a business jet.
“We got the stand-by order on Monday and took off on a Bombadier Global Express business jet at around 10.30am on Thursday from Subang air base.
“We were not sure what to expect as we entered North Korean air space,” Hasrizan told the daily, adding that the crew and the rescued nine only started breathing easy upon leaving North Korean air space a few hours later with the nine Malaysians on board.
Hazrizan, 26, said there was nothing unusual about the whole mission aside from the fact that it took longer than expected to get clearance to take off once the nine Malaysians had boarded the jet.
“There was nothing unusual during the whole trip. The only issue was that there was a long delay between the time we landed in Pyongyang, at 4.30pm Malaysian time, and the time we were allowed to take off, at around 7.45pm,” he was quoted as saying by The Star, adding that he and his fellow crew members were thankful for being able to bring the nine Malaysians home.
He also said that the crew made one subsequent stop at Fuzhou Changle airport in China for refuelling purposes.
The nine Malaysians were stranded in Pyongyang since March 6, after being refused permission to leave by the North Korean government, due to a fallout in relations between the two countries in the aftermath of the murder of Kim Jong Nam on Feb 13.
Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed at the low-cost carrier airport, klia2, where he was scheduled to take a flight to Macau.
He was attacked by two women who wiped his face with a substance later identified as VX nerve agent, a chemical poison classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
Both women have since been charged with the murder but four North Korean intelligence operatives wanted by Malaysian police for the investigation into the murder, fled the country just hours after the murder.
Another three North Koreans also wanted for questioning are believed to be in hiding in the North Korean embassy premises in Kuala Lumpur. FMT

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