Mass graves believed to contain bodies of hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh have been found in Malaysia, the country's home minister said.

Police discovered 30 large graves in two locations in the northern state of Perlis, which borders Thailand, local media reported on Sunday.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi confirmed the unearthing of a mass grave near 17 human trafficking detention camps in Padang Besar.

The camps were abandoned when officers got there, he said.

The Star newspaper reported on its website that nearly 100 bodies were found in one grave on Friday.

 

Al Jazeera's Florence Looi, reporting from the capital Kuala Lumpur, said identification and verification of the remains was ongoing.

It was not clear if the bodies were members of a Muslim minority from Myanmar known as Rohingya, an official said.

Northern Malaysia is on a route for smugglers bringing people to Southeast Asia by boat from Myanmar, most of them Rohingya who say they are fleeing persecution, and people from Bangladesh seeking work.

Smugglers have also used southern Thailand. The Utusan Malaysia newspaper said police believed the discovery had a connection to mass graves found on the Thai side of the border earlier this month.

Twenty-six bodies were exhumed from a grave in Thailand's Songkhla province on May 1, over the border from Perlis, near a camp with suspected links to human trafficking.

More than 3,000 migrants, most of them from Myanmar and Bangladesh, have landed on boats in Malaysia and Indonesia this month after a crackdown on trafficking in Thailand.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday pledged assistance and ordered the navy to rescue thousands adrift at sea.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies