Thailand police ‘recover 26 bodies’ from jungle camp

Thai police say they have recovered 26 bodies from shallow graves at an abandoned jungle camp in southern Thailand.

A police spokesman said it was not clear how those found had died, but that tests were being carried out to establish their identities.

The camp was found on Friday on a route regularly used to smuggle Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma).

One very ill survivor was also found.

Man abandoned

Police General Jarumporn Suramanee told the AFP news agency that one of the 26 bodies recovered was a woman.

“There are no more bodies,” he went on. “Every hole has been searched.”

A police spokesman said earlier that human traffickers were believed to have abandoned the sick man a few days ago, as they moved people across the border from the camp, in Songkhla province.

The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Myanmar says that it is not immediately clear how the people died but that, from looking at the remains, police officers believe that many perished from disease or starvation.

The purpose of the camp is also unclear but our correspondent says that smugglers are known to hold people in camps for months while ransoms are demanded from their families back home.

Every year thousands of people are trafficked through Thailand and into Malaysia.

Rohingya Muslims in particular have used the route to flee persecution and sectarian violence in neighbouring Myanmar.

In 2012, more than 200 people were killed and thousands left homeless after violence broke out between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar. Anti-Muslim violence has flared several times since then.

In December, the UN passed a resolution urging Myanmar to give access to citizenship for the Rohingya, many of whom are classed as stateless.