A man attempting to shoot his wife at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Sunday instead left her personal bodyguard in critical condition, Malaysian authorities said.

Police were investigating the rare shooting in connection to a domestic dispute and said it was not related to terrorism.

The shooter, who was thought to be targeting his wife in the arrivals hall, hit her bodyguard and then fled the scene, according to police.

"The suspect fired two shots before hitting a local man who was a bodyguard, causing the victim to suffer injuries to the abdomen," Selangor state police chief Hussein Omar Khan said in a statement.

Criminal Investigation Department Director Shuhaily Zain added: "The man actually intended to shoot towards his wife."

Officers were searching for a 38-year-old Malaysian man who had previously been arrested for threatening his wife.

Following the threats, the woman hired bodyguards last year, according to Shuhaily.

The woman, who runs a travel agency, was at the airport to receive Muslim pilgrims returning from Mecca, police said.

Gun violence is rare in Malaysia, which has tough gun control laws, with illegal possession of firearms punishable by up to 40 years in jail.