BANDAR BAHARU: Police have identified the culprit believed to have instigated the riot at the temporary Immigration Depot in Relau on Wednesday (April 20).
Kedah Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Datuk G. Suresh Kumar said the suspect, in his 30s, was identified as being among the longest-residing detainees at the depot.
Police believed he was the one who influenced the other detainees to riot, creating chaos that led to a mass breakout and a number of deaths.
"We believe that this suspect had a major role in the incident and instigated others to riot and escape.
"Efforts are under way to locate the suspect," he told a press conference at the police headquarters here on Thursday (April 21).
He said the initial investigation of the detainees who were recaptured found that they wanted to be free and were not satisfied with the management of the depot.
He said some 200 of those who were rearrested had been questioned so far.
"We also recorded statements from 20 Immigration personnel and People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) members," he added.
Bandar Baharu OCPD Deputy Supt Mohd Akmal Hizam Abd Khupur said a total of 14 police special team members and 350 General Operations Force (GOF) personnel had been deployed to locate the detainees still at large.
"Our main focus now is around Bandar Baharu, Relau and Lubuk Buntar township which cover a search area of almost 2km radius," he said.
DSP Mohd Akmal Hizam ensured the public that the district was safe following the riot and escape.
He called upon members of the public who might happen to stumble upon escaped detainees to immediately report it the police and not take any action on their own.
About 650 Rohingya detainees at the depot started a riot at around 5am on Wednesday, leading to a mass escape that left about 10 of them dead - struck by vehicles as they attempted to cross the highway.