Mass graves of suspected migrants found in Malaysia

Mass graves of suspected migrants found in Malaysia
Rescue workers retrieve human remains from graves near the hillside site where shallow graves containing 26 bodies were found on May 1, close to the town of Padang Besar in the southern Thai province of Songkhla on May 13, 2015.

ALOR SETAR, Malaysia - Malaysia said Sunday it had found mass graves feared to contain the bodies of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants at the centre of a regional human-trafficking crisis.

Home Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted by The Star newspaper's website as saying the graves were found near detention camps run by people-traffickers.

"But we don't know how many there are. We are probably going to find more bodies," Zahid was quoted as saying.

The Star said the camps were abandoned when police found them last week.

Police in neighbouring Thailand in early May found secret human-trafficking jungle camps on their side of the border and dozens of shallow graves.

The report quoting Zahid gave few details but the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia, citing an unnamed source, earlier reported that about 30 mass graves had been found containing "hundreds of skeletons".

The Star, also quoting sources, had said the graves were "believed to contain nearly 100 Rohingya migrants".

Thailand began a crackdown on human trafficking and smuggling following the discovery of its mass graves, which appears to have thrown regional trafficking routes into chaos.

Many migrants had previously tried to enter Malaysia, their preferred destination, via its land border with Thailand.

With traffickers apparently now abandoning their human cargo at sea, boats filled with hundreds of starving migrants from the two countries have sought desperately to land in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which turned them away.

Facing growing international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia last week said they would admit boat people, who are to be repatriated or resettled with the help of international agencies.

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