GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Famed for its old world charm and street food, Penang is now drawing attention for a different reason.
Police records reveal that since January, 46 murders have been reported here, with 65 per cent or 30 cases involving foreigners.
Of the murdered foreigners, 17 involved Myanmar nationals who had their throats slit.
Penang police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim Hanafi told Sunday Star yesterday that a special taskforce had been set up to look into the murders. He called for calm and patience, adding that "the situation is under control".
The discovery of a headless body in a suitcase near the Botanic Gardens on Thursday is the latest in a string of gruesome murders reported in the city. The victim is believed to be a foreign woman.
The gory find came two days after another headless body, that of an Indonesian woman, was found floating in the sea, some seven nautical miles off Pulau Kendi. And on Friday, a pair of mutilated legs were discovered at the Pulau Burung landfill in Nibong Tebal.
The murders have dominated coffeshop talk, with several theories, including the possibility of a serial killer on the prowl.
"That is far-fetched. The mutilated body in Jalan Kebun Bunga here is an isolated case. Rest assured, we are investigating the case from all angles," DCP Abdul Rahim said.
"On the murder of Myanmar nationals, there is no indication of communal clashes as speculated earlier," he added.
The cases involving Myanmar nationals have gripped public interest as many of the victims, a large number of them unidentified, were dumped at industrial areas on separate occasions.
Most of them were wrapped in white cloth, bedsheet or sarong and left by the roadside.
Meanwhile, police said DNA results on the pair of legs would be known tomorrow.
George Town OCPD Asst Comm Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said police were waiting for the autopsy report to determine if the legs belonged to the headless body in the suitcase.