Cops deny confirming probe on Uighur passenger, MH370 crew

File photo shows a police officer (centre) standing guard at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10, 2014. — AFP pic
File photo shows a police officer (centre) standing guard at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10, 2014. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Police shot down today reports saying they have launched a probe into one passenger of Uighur descent or searched the homes of the crew of missing flight MH370, calling them “unverified”.

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah said he had never issued any statement on developments in the police’s probe into the missing plane.

“This is because the probe is confidential and still in the process of investigation,” he said in a brief media statement, written in Malay.

“The police will update on any developments at the appropriate time. Hence, Hence, any confirmation on MH370 is unverified news,” he added.

Malay language daily Harian Metro today ran a report quoting Hadi as saying that the Malaysian police and Interpol are combing through the personal backgrounds of passengers and crew on the missing Boeing 777-200, especially a 35-year-old passenger of Uighur descent.

The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group primarily living in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China.

It was reported that the group that killed at least 29 people and wounding 143 with long knives and daggers, in the Kunming railway station on March 1, were allegedly Muslim separatist militants from the western region of Xinjiang, suspected to be of Uighur descent.

Harian Metro’s report also claimed that the police had searched the family homes of crew members, including the pilot and co-pilot of the plane, as terrorism and sabotage has not been ruled out as a reason behind the disappearance of the airliner.

Harian Metro had cited an unnamed source saying Malaysian police and Interpol are focusing their attention on the 35-year-old man because of the skills he possessed.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 aircraft fell off Malaysia’s secondary radar at 1.30am on March 8.

The Beijing-bound plane carrying 239 passengers and crew members was transiting from Malaysian airspace to Vietnamese airspace and were supposed to report to Vietnam’s air traffic control but failed to do so.

Its last location known was 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru, in the South China Sea.

So far, no wreckage or signs of the aircraft and the people onboard have been found, with 12 nations now involved in the massive search, with 42 vessels and 39 aircraft.

The assets are now combing 37,000 square nautical miles in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, into the Andaman Sea, round the clock for vessels, and 12-hour operations during the day for air search.

* A previous edition of the story contained several errors which have since been corrected.

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