KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s police chief has confirmed the discovery of 139 grave sites and 28 human-trafficking camps in the country’s remote northern border region.
National police chief Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar revealed the findings at a press conference a day after the government announced on Sunday the discovery of camps and graves, the first such sites found in Malaysia since a regional human-trafficking crisis erupted earlier this month.
“[Authorities] found 139 suspected graves. They are not sure how many bodies are inside each grave,” Khalid said.
He added that the number and size of the 28 camps found suggested they might have housed a combined hundreds of people.
The largest could hold up to 300 people, another had a capacity of 100, while the rest could hold about 20 each, he said.
The first decomposed body was brought down to a police camp set up at the foot of the mountains where the graves were discovered on Monday evening.
The operation took nearly five hours due to the rough terrain.
“The body was only bones and little bit of clothing on it,” Padang Besar police officer-in-charge Rizani Che Ismail said.
He said the cause of death was not immediately apparent.
The discovery was the latest evidence of the lethal nature of the region’s human-trafficking trade and has been condemned by Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak.
“I am deeply concerned with graves found on Malaysian soil purportedly connected to people smuggling,” Mr Najib said on his Facebook page.
“We will find those responsible.”