Malaysian authorities say they have discovered 139 suspected graves in a series of abandoned camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand where Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma (Myanmar) have been held.
Early reports indicated that some of the graves contain more than one body.
Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that at least 28 camps were discovered along a 50-kilometer (30-mile) stretch of the Malaysian-Thai border.
“The operation which we have been conducting from May 11 to May 23 we discovered 139 of what we believe are graves,” he said.
He added that forensics teams were exhuming the suspected graves to search for bodies.
The finding follows a similar discovery earlier this month by police in Thailand who unearthed dozens of bodies from shallow graves on the Thai side of the border. Khalid confirmed that one of the graves was found just 100 meters from the mass grave found in Thailand.
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“We will find out who caused this definitely. We will not condone anybody who is involved including Malaysian officials,” he said.
The grim discoveries are shedding new light on the hidden network of jungle camps run by traffickers, who for years held people captive while extorting ransoms from their families.
Two or three jungle trafficking camps in the area are believed to have been abandoned as recently as 2 weeks ago. No arrests have been made in relation to the 139 graves.
This latest discovery comes amid a mounting humanitarian crisis in Southeast Asia as tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims flee persecution in western Burma (Myanmar).
Thousands have come ashore in Malaysia and Indonesia this month, with as many 8,000 believed to be stranded off the western coasts of Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in rickety boats.
Last week Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to give the migrants temporary shelter until and international resettlement solution can be found.
Additional reporting from Associated Press