Malaysian authorities said on Sunday that they discovered 24 bodies of suspected victims of human trafficking.
The 24 bodies of human trafficking victims were uncovered in a mass grave on Saturday in a forested area near the border with Thailand.
Earlier over a hundred graves were also found in the area which has been a transit point for smugglers bringing people to south-east Asia by boat from Burma and Bangladesh, according to reports.
“Following on from the operation in which we found … bodies of illegal immigrants, 24 more bodies have been found and dug up,” police said in a statement. The bodies have been sent for autopsy.
Most of the victims were believed to be from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya minority ethnic group whose members have fled widespread persecution in Malaysia or impoverished migrants from Bangladesh.
National Security Council chairman Shahidan Kassim confirmed the discovery. “It was raining heavily recently and the downpour swept away the soil and revealed the remains.”
“We don’t know how long the victims were buried or if there was a transit camp there,” he said.
Human right groups and activists say some have been beaten to death, and AP has documented other cases in which people have been enslaved on fishing boats.
In an operation that was conducted from May 11 to May 23, authorities said they discovered 139 graves in abandoned jungle camps near the town of Wang Kelian.
The discoveries have exposed suspected hidden networks of jungle camps used by human smugglers, who have for years held countless desperate people captive while extorting ransoms from their families, reports said.
The latest police crackdown in May drove traffickers to abandon thousands of migrants floating in overcrowded boats in the water of south-east Asia which resulted in a regional humanitarian crisis. IMAGE/REUTERS