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41 Rohingyas found on Malaysian beach

April 09, 2019 00:00:00

KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 08 (Agencies): Forty-one Rohingyas were found on a Malaysian beach Monday, police said.

With the latest arrivals authorities fear it could be a new wave of people smuggling by sea.

Officials believe the migrants found on Monday are from Myanmar or Bangladesh.

"We are still investigating where the boats are coming from, but we suspect human trafficking syndicates are involved," Noor Mushar said.

Dozens of Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh have boarded boats in recent months to try to reach Malaysia, which had seen a decline in arrivals after a 2015 crackdown on trafficking.

Last month, 35 migrants were found on Sungai Belati beach in the northern state of Perlis.

On Monday, 41 men were detained around the town of Simpang Empat after landing at the same beach in the early morning, state police chief Noor Mushar Mohamad told Reuters.

"We believe they were travelling on a much larger boat, before being transferred into smaller boats at sea and taken to different places," he said, adding the men were in good health and have been handed over to immigration officials.

More than 700,000 Rohingya crossed into Bangladesh in 2017 fleeing an army crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine state, according to UN agencies.

Myanmar regards Rohingya as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to sprawling camps in Rakhine since violence swept the area in 2012.

The latest batch, which consisted entirely of men, were found Monday on the same beach as the previous boatload, local police chief Noor Mushar Mohamad said.

"This is definitely the work of human smuggling syndicates working with local syndicates," he said.

"I fear there could be more Rohingya arrivals unless maritime enforcement agencies step up patrols urgently."

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