Hundreds of Rohingya migrants from Myanmar escaped a detention center in northern Malaysia on Wednesday, with six killed on a highway as they escaped, authorities said.
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Many Rohingya arrive in Malaysia by boat after enduring arduous months of sea voyages. Those caught are often sent to detention centers, which are usually overcrowded and filthy, according to human rights groups.
A total of 528 people from the Muslim minority group fled a center in Kedah state at 4:30 am (2030 GMT Tuesday), said Khairul Dzaimee Daud, the country’s chief of immigration.
“A total of 362 detainees have been re-arrested. The search for the remaining detainees continues,” he said in a statement.
They broke through a door and barriers at the temporary immigration center, he added.
Six of the detainees were killed trying to cross a highway after escaping, said Penang State Police Chief Mohamad Shuhaily Mohamad Zain.
The dead were two adult men, two adult women, a girl and a boy, he said.
Police, other agencies and the public are chasing the missing detainees.
Malaysia, which is relatively affluent, is a major destination for Rohingya fleeing persecution in their predominantly Buddhist homeland or refugee camps in Bangladesh.
More than 100,000 Rohingya live on the fringes of society in the country, working illegally in construction and other low-paying jobs.
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