Perak Road Muslims Burial Ground, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

Families of three Indonesians shot dead by police in Malaysia during a chase two weeks ago say Malaysian authorities killed three innocent men.

But police have claimed the men were part of a notorious gang of robbers, who fled into a forest then charged at them armed with machetes.

In the early hours of November 10, a woman called police saying three men had broken into her home on Puncak Bukit Mutiara in Tanjong Bungah in Pulau Pinang, the Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) reported.

Officers pursued the alleged intruders but the circumstances in which they were shot are unclear. Some reports have said the Indonesians were hiding in a bush near the scene. Others say police allege that the men, in their 30s, charged at them armed with parangs (machetes).

Three parangs were allegedly recovered from the deceased as evidence and police said that the men could be members of Geng Rantau Mahkota – a notorious gang of robbers from Indonesia.

But two family members of the men killed, who wished to stay anonymous, said the police were mistaken – they were not robbers, just migrant workers. Two of them had run away from their job doing roof repairs on November 8 and the third man was a factory worker who left his job without notice on November 9.

Local authorities were reportedly considering burying the men’s bodies at Perak Road Muslims Burial Ground amid concern that the families may not be able to afford the cost of shipping or flying their relatives’ bodies home to Indonesia.

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