Penang going after two gangs of serial killers

Penang going after two gangs of serial killers
Police at a house in Kampung Pisang, Cherok Tok Kun.

GEORGETOWN (Penang) - The grisly murder of Myanmar nationals in Penang has taken a new twist, with the emergence of a new group of serial killers.

The disclosure was made by Penang police, the Malay Mail reported yesterday, following investigations and the discovery of two other bodies believed to be of foreigners - one highly decomposed, the other with his throat slit - this week.

The existence of a second gang has heightened fears of more serial killings in the state, which has been gripped by the death of 18 Myanmar nationals - many of whom were chopped up - this year.

Unlike the old gang, which was operating from mainland Penang, the new gang appears to be operating from Penang island. Its members have not been identified yet but the two groups do not appear to be working together, said Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi.

The new group, comprising mostly construction workers, operated independently by recruiting friends to commit murders. But their style of execution is similar to that of the earlier 18 killings, for which 20 suspects have been arrested over the last two weeks.

"Their style of execution was the same as the earlier group's - they kill the victim, chop off the body and head, and maim the limbs before dumping the body," said Datuk Abdul Rahim.

The spate of murders of foreigners here has been attributed to communal clashes in Myanmar.

Mr Abdul Rahim said police got the breakthrough on the new group after interrogating the Myanmar nationals who had been arrested earlier.

Twelve of the 20 have admitted to killing nine of their countrymen. Eight were released after questioning.

The main suspect, a man from the Arakan district in Myanmar, was among those arrested. Sources said he admitted to killing three of his countrymen following ethnic tensions between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar, as six of his own family members were killed during the communal clashes a year ago.

He said the group had brought their disputes from Myanmar into the state and started seeking revenge by killing the victims.

Police, however, are still looking for three other Myanmar national labourers to assist in investigations.

They are: Mohd Yahyar Khan Rafie, 24, and two others identified only as Lokman, who is in his 20s, and Ali Gemuk, who is in his 30s, The Star reported.

The trio are believed to be Rohingya - a Muslim minority group which has suffered heavy persecution in Myanmar - and are said to be in hiding. The spate of murders has worried locals, even as the authorities sought to calm their fears.

On Wednesday, police recovered a highly decomposed body of a man from a rubber plantation on Penang island.

The body, wrapped in a sarong, has yet to be identified but it is also believed to be that of a foreigner.

"The public does not have to be worried over the killings because the police are in full control of the situation," said Mr Abdul Rahim.

This article was first published on Dec 13, 2014.
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