Malaysian police have arrested 18 people in conjunction with the riots that broke out near Low Yat Plaza yesterday.
The rioting was sparked off after a Malaysian thief attempted to flee with a stolen mobile phone but was caught by handphone shop sales staff. After his release from the police station, the thief returned to Low Yat Plaza with gang members who were subsequently overpowered by the combined effort of sales staff from Huawei, OPPO and Samsung.
The incident was clearly captured in a series of viral videos (Part 1) (Part 2) circulated by netizens online.
As social media agitation and racial rumors spread, inflamed netizens who showed up at Low Yat Plaza ran amok, partly due to inflammatory speeches by Malaysian speakers at the venue – the rioting crowd caused damage to public property and injured several innocent bystanders and journalists on the scene. The riot too was captured on video. (Part 1) (Part 2)
City police chief Commissioner Datuk Tajuddin Md Isa said those arrested were aged between 16 and 40, including the man who was suspected of stealing a mobile phone at the shopping complex on Saturday.
"Those arrested were connected to four cases.
"There are cases of theft and riot on Saturday and two cases of rioting with weapons on Sunday night," he told a press conference on Monday.
He also refuted claims that the main suspect in the theft case was actually a victim of fraud, whereby he was sold a clone phone.
"It is also not true that the same suspect is a son of a policeman.
"There are too many rumours and false news in social media. This is one of the reason violence escalated last night and early this morning," he said.
Tajuddin confirmed that the main investigation was focused on theft of a mobile phone and it was not racially motivated.
"I hope all social media users can think rationally and not be influence by unverified news and information," he said.
Tajuddin said police would be monitoring social media and did not rule out action against those who spread false news and incite hatred among the people.

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