Mass graves found in Malaysia

About 139 graves believed to contain the remains of migrants were found near the border with Thailand.

A Malaysian policeman carries human skeletal remains inside plastic bags exhumed from graves following the discovery of numerous grave sites and detention camps near the Malaysia-Thailand border in Wang Kelian on May 25, 2015. Picture: AFP.

WANG KELIAN, MALAYSIA - Mass graves have been discovered in Malaysia in an area known to be used by human smugglers.

The government is now investigating how many people may have been buried there and where they came from.

The graves were found in two locations one of which borders a Thailand province where at least 33 bodies were found earlier this month.

Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says, "Today the chief and deputy chief of police are near Malaysian border to identify and verify the mass graves that were found.

The police chief said that 139 graves believed to contain the remains of migrants were found near the country's border with Thailand, and that some graves contained more than one body.

"These graves are believed to have been related to human trafficking activities involving migrants."

The graves were found at 28 suspected human trafficking camps located around 500 metres from the border in northern Malaysia, said Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.

"The operation which we have been conducting from 11 May to 23 May we discovered 139 of what we believe are graves," Khalid told reporters.

He added that one grave site was about 100 metres from a mass grave discovered in Thailand earlier this month.

"The first team of our officers has arrived in the area this morning to exhume the bodies," said Khalid.

Southeast Asia is grappling with a humanitarian crisis involving thousands of people trafficked from Myanmar and Bangladesh into Malaysia and Indonesia through Thailand.

More than 3,000 migrants, most of them from Myanmar and Bangladesh, have landed on boats in Malaysia and Indonesia this month after a crackdown on trafficking in Thailand.

The Thai crackdown appears to have disrupted smuggling routes and had a knock-on effect with many migrants now stuck at sea on what the United Nations has described as 'floating coffins'.

Additional information by Reuters