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Rohingya Refugee Boat Turned Back From Malaysian Waters

A boat carrying up to 300 Rohingya refugees tried to land in Malaysia this week but turned back after spotting patrol vessels seeking to prevent migrants entering over virus fears, an official says.

The boat is believed to have been at sea for three to four months and tried several times to enter the country’s waters on Monday before giving up, said Malaysian coastguard chief Zubil Mat Som.

The vessel was originally part of another group of Rohingya refugees which was allowed to land in northwest Malaysia on Monday after officials discovered their boat was too badly damaged to be turned back.

Malaysia has long been a favoured destination for the persecuted Muslim minority from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, with thousands undertaking perilous sea crossings each year.

They usually travel from Myanmar or Bangladesh, where many live in squalid refugee camps, but Malaysia has strengthened maritime patrols in recent months.

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