Abu Dhabi: Four men who allegedly directed gunfire at guards in the Um Al Shataan wildlife reserve have been imprisoned pending investigation, the public prosecution announced on Tuesday.
The defendants, aged between 23 and 35, have also been charged with possessing unlicensed weapons, hunting in prohibited areas, driving recklessly, forging licence plates and consuming amphetamines.
A patrol car belonging to the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) initially gave chase to a vehicle carrying two of the defendants as they attempted to follow Houbara bird tracks inside the protected area.
The duo, however, managed to flee the guards, after which a second patrol car was dispatched.
One of the accused then pulled out a gun and fired four shots at the approaching patrol vehicle but none of the guards were injured. A third patrol car was called in and managed to keep up the chase until police arrived at the scene.
Meanwhile, the suspects continued to fire at the third patrol car even as another suspect drove to the spot and deliberately resorted to a manoeuvre known as drifting, raising a cloud of dust in a bid to enable his co-accused to escape the police.
The suspect who arrived last was caught, leading authorities to two other men at a fourth suspects’ house. The fourth man was charged with covering up for the accused and possessing firearms and alcohol.
Investigations showed that the car being used by the first two suspects had a forged licence plate while the vehicle used by the third suspect was being driven without a registration plate.
An unlicensed weapon was also found in the fourth suspect’s home along with 21 bullets, while the defendants’ urine samples revealed they were under the influence of amphetamines.
The guards alleged that the suspects fired shots at them at least five times with deadly intent. The guards said it was their duty to stop trespassers within the wildlife reserve and to ensure that they were not carrying any firearms to engage in hunting.
A source at the General Attorney’s office in Abu Dhabi said that crimes with ecological implications were viewed very seriously because the UAE is exerting its fullest efforts to conserve its wildlife.