Mass Graves Discovered in Malaysia's Jungle
139 suspected graves found in abandoned jungle camps
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2015 11:07 AM CDT
A Malaysian Forensic team personnel places bags of human remains found at the abandoned camps for transportation from the Malaysia-Thailand border in Wang Kelian, Malaysia.   (Joshua Paul)
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(Newser) – A cluster of abandoned Malaysian jungle camps used by human traffickers contained 139 suspected graves as well as barbed-wire pens likely used to cage migrants, authorities revealed today. National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said forensics experts were exhuming the suspected graves found at 28 vacated camps in the hilly jungle area on the border with Thailand where trafficking syndicates were known to operate. "We never expected this kind of cruelty," Khalid told reporters; Reuters reports he said there were indications torture was used, though he didn't elaborate. At one camp, police found "a highly decomposed body" that will be examined by forensics experts; the terrain is so rough that it took five hours to transport the first set of remains to a police camp at the mountains' base.

The finding in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis follows a similar discovery earlier this month on the Thai side of the border, where dozens of bodies were unearthed from shallow graves. The discoveries have exposed hidden networks of jungle camps run by human smugglers, who have for years held countless desperate people captive while extorting ransoms from their families. As Southeast Asian governments have launched crackdowns in recent weeks amid intensified international pressure and media scrutiny, traffickers have abandoned camps on land and boats at sea to avoid arrest. Khalid said at least two of the camps found in Malaysia appeared to have been abandoned within the past few weeks. Scattered personal possessions included a pink teddy bear and white children's sandals, he said, indicating the possible presence of children at the camp.