269 Rohingyas detained after body of woman found aboard Malaysia-bound boat

A boat carrying suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants is seen detained in Malaysian territorial waters, in Langkawi April 5, 2020. — Reuters pic
A boat carrying suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants is seen detained in Malaysian territorial waters, in Langkawi April 5, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Authorities intercepted a boat, carrying 269 Rohingyas, trying to enter Langkawi waters early this morning and found a woman’s body in it.

The National Task Force (NTF) said in a statement that all of them were arrested at about 5am after it received information from the Langkawi Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) Maritime Operations Commanding Officer a few hours earlier.

According to the statement, a Marine Police Team boat and the KM Kimanis from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) were sent to the scene to carry out surveillance and deportation operations.

“When the KM Kimanis approached the boat, 53 of the Rohingyas jumped off the boat and swam ashore, but they were all arrested by MMEA personnel who were standing by on land.

“A check on the boat found 216 Rohingyas on board and also the body of a woman,” the statement said.

The boat was also found to have been purposely damaged, with its engine beyond repair. As such, deportation could not be carried out.

The KM Kimanis also provided assistance in the form of food and fresh water to the illegal immigrants. Based on humanitarian grounds, the National Security Council allowed the boat to be towed to the Teluk Ewa Jetty in Langkawi. 

“All 269 illegal immigrants have been detained and have been temporarily placed at Kem Bina Negara Wawasan Langkawi while the body has been handed over the police for further action,” the statement said.

The NTF carried out the Op Benteng together with the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), PDRM, MMEA and other enforcement and security agencies.

Bernama yesterday quoted Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as saying that 396 illegal immigrants and 108 boat skippers had been arrested under Op Benteng from May 1 until June 8 for attempting to enter the country’s borders illegally. 

Following that, the authorities also detained 11 suspected smugglers and seized 12 ships besides deporting 140 illegal immigrants, six skippers and 22 vessels trying to encroach into the country’s borders. — Bernama

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