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Friday, 10 April, 1998, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Immigrants invade US embassy in Malaysia
Malaysia migrants
A group of immigrants detained by Malaysian police last month
A group of Indonesian immigrants have forced their way into the US embassy compound in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, in a last-ditch attempt to escape deportation by the Malaysian authorities.

According to the police, they are among more than 20 illegal immigrants who forced their way into several foreign embassies in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. Those who entered the French and Swiss embassies and the Brunei diplomatic office were arrested after embassy officials refused to help them.

However, the eight Indonesians in the American embassy have been detained by the embassy's own security staff while US officials consult the United Nations refugee agency about their status.

An embassy official said US diplomats were also in touch with Washington to decide whether to expel the immigrants.

"The decision will basically come from Washington," the official said, noting that the 12-hour time difference with Washington made it difficult to take a quick decision.

Malaysia blames economic malaise

A further group of 14 Indonesians is still in the office of the United Nations, which they entered last week claiming political asylum.

The Indonesians, believed to be from the province of Aceh, say they are political refugees escaping repression at home.

The UN is interviewing the immigrants to determine whether they qualify for political asylum.

The Malaysian authorities say they are economic migrants who want to escape worsening social conditions.

Malaysia has begun a clampdown on foreign workers because of the threat of rising unemployment facing its own people.

There are estimated to be about 2m foreigners working in Malaysia. They come from India, Thailand and Bangladesh as well as Indonesia.

See also:

24 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia gets smart with boat people
30 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
Refugees break into Malaysian UN office
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