A previously unknown Chinese group called the Chinese Martyrs’ Brigade has come forth to claim responsibility for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, but officials believe the statement is likely a hoax.
The group sent an email to Chinese journalists Sunday reading, “You kill one of our clan, we will kill 100 of you as pay back.”
Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport that “there is no sound or credible grounds to justify their claims.”
The claim could be meant to stir ethnic tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese. 29 people were killed in China's Yunnan province Sunday in a knife attack, with Chinese officials calling the brutal incident a “premeditated violent terrorist attack" organized by the Muslim separatist Uighurs.
The group offered no other information about the plane’s disappearance.
Officials are currently searching the northern parts of the Malacca Strait for signs of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from the skies one hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
While Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman originally said that passengers who boarded with the stolen passports looked “Asian,” two of the passengers have been identified as Iranian citizens who changed their valid documents for falsified Italian and Austrian ones.
Theories for the plane’s disappearance include the aircraft disintegrating in midair. Officials are also looking closely at the stolen passports and passenger behavior for the possibility of a terrorist activity. The plane sent no distress signal and disappeared from tracking records after veering off course on its way to Beijing, possibly to turn back to Kuala Lumpur.