A SECOND gang of serial killers has emerged in Malaysia's state of Penang, according to the local media, after the body of another foreigner was found with his throat slit in front of a Buddhist temple in Relau, on Penang Island, on Monday.
Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said this new gang is thought to be active on Penang's main island, and comprises mostly construction crew working independently to recruit killers, the Malay Mail Online reported. Its members have not been identified yet.
But the gang's style of execution is similar to that of the killings of at least 18 Myanmar nationals in the past year, in a case that has horrified the Malaysian state.
"Their style of execution was the same as the earlier group - they kill the victim, chop off the body and head, and maim the limbs before dumping the body," the Malay Mail Online quoted Datuk Abdul Rahim as saying. "We believe they are not working hand-in-hand with the first group."
A total of 20 people, including one woman, have been nabbed in the investigation into the murder of the 18 Myanmar nationals. After interrogations, the police found out about the new group, said the police chief.
The emergence of the new group has given rise to fears that more serial killings might occur in the state.
Mr Abdul Rahim told the Malay Mail Online that eight of the 20 suspects had been released after questioning, and the police were looking for three more Myanmar nationals to help in investigations: Mohd Yahyar Khan Rafie, 24; Lokman, who is in his 20s; and a man known only as "Gemuk".
"Of the 20 people arrested, 12 had admitted their involvement in the killing of nine of their countrymen," the Malay Mail Online reported Mr Abdul Rahim as saying. "The public does not have to be worried over the killings because the police are in full control of the situation. We are working with relevant authorities."
Another 10 bodies remain unidentified, and could also be from Myanmar.
All the murders are believed by the police to have taken place on mainland Penang, and the bodies, or parts of bodies, scattered in plantations and other remote areas.
The 28 killings were part of 51 murders that took place in Penang this year, the Malay Mail Online news reported last on Dec 5. Eighteen of the victims were Malaysians.
The police earlier had raided a house in Kampung Pisang in the Machang Bubok area on mainland Penang that was where the Myanmar nationals were murdered and dismembered. Machang Bubok is located near Bukit Mertajam town, to the east of the old Penang Bridge.
There was speculation that the murders were linked to events in Myanmar, where nationalist Buddhists had attacked and killed Myanmar Muslims and the stateless Muslim Rohingyas from Rakhine state.
Mr Abdul Rahim Hanafi was earlier quoted as saying by Malay Mail Online that the killings were borne out of "revenge" brought over from Myanmar.