Malaysia intercepts boat ferrying 202 suspected Rohingya

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian authorities said on Sunday they had intercepted a boat ferrying a group of 202 people believed to be ethnic Rohingya.

Malaysia, which does not recognise refugee status, is a favoured destination for ethnic Rohingya fleeing a military-led crackdown in Myanmar and squalid conditions at refugee camps in Bangladesh.

The boat was found adrift around one nautical mile from a luxury beachside resort on the holiday island of Langkawi, off the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula, the Malaysian maritime enforcement agency said in a statement.

The group included 152 men, 45 women and 5 children. All 202 have been detained at the coastguard's Kedah state headquarters.

The group will be handed over to immigration authorities for attempting to enter the country illegally, the coastguard said.

The agency said it would also investigate complaints from the migrants about three alleged members of a migrant smuggling syndicate who escaped from the boat while out at sea.

In February, at least 15 Rohingya refugees died when a vessel carrying about 130 people capsized in the Bay of Bengal while trying to reach Malaysia.


(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)