BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Social media were rife with speculation over the "suspicious items" found in a bag at the Brunei International Airport last Saturday as authorities have yet to provide details of the incident.
Despite police warning the public against spreading rumours, viral messages on social media alleged that the package discovered at the airport contained an improvised explosive device carried by a foreign passenger on a transit flight to the sultanate.
Unverified pictures of uniformed personnel surrounding a Royal Brunei aircraft grounded on the tarmac were also widely circulated by the public.
The Brunei Times yesterday contacted government agencies including the Internal Security Department, Royal Brunei Police Force and Ministry of Communications to shed light on the incident, but no further details were revealed.
The police last Saturday said "suspicious items" were found in a bag, and an investigation was conducted on the bag owner, who arrived from a morning flight to Brunei.
The bag owner's identity was not given, nor did the police confirm what were the "suspicious items".
The package was found at 9.25am during a routine luggage check.
Authorities said they were under strict orders to withhold information, deflecting efforts to address fears fueled by speculation online.
The Brunei International Airport appeared to be running normally with nothing to suggest an incident had taken place when The Brunei Times visited yesterday.
A few shopkeepers at the airport said they were unaware that "suspicious items" were found.
One passenger, Hjh Anne Ward, who was on her way to Jakarta, said she first found out about the incident through viral messages on Facebook.
Hjh Anne said she was "not really scared" about her flight, but added that the incident was rather "dangerous and worrying".
"I think it's really good and very lucky that (the suspicious items) were discovered," she said, further praising the security personnel who had discovered them.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Ikhwan, who was at the airport to send off family members to the United States, said he remains confident in the abilities of law enforcers in handling such cases.
Erwan, another Bruneian who was spotted at the airport, said he found out about the incident through local papers.
Erwan said he recalled a situation at the airport of a neighbouring country last year when he alerted security guards about an unattended box.
"The security guards there just told me "not to worry", so I'm hoping people here actually take things like this more seriously," he said.
Kartini, another passenger, said there should be more security checkpoints and measures put in place at the airport to deter similar incidents from happening.
She also urged authorities to be more transparent with details about the incident, so that people in Brunei can be more aware.