A Kiwi living on a tropical Southeast Asian island risks arrest if he returns after at least 15 rifles and 1500 rounds of ammunition were seized in a police raid.

Police found the cache of weapons in Langkawi near the Malaysia-Thailand border last week.

They say a New Zealander who owns a freight forwarding company owns the guns.

A British man and two locals, allegedly employees of the New Zealander, were arrested after the raid.

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The police operation followed a possibly related raid on a nearby luxury yacht one week earlier.

In that operation, a 43-year-old South African man and a Thai woman were arrested and seven rifles seized.

Police in Langkawi told APNZ today a Briton and South African had been arrested but the New Zealander was still at large. The policeman hung up when asked who the New Zealander was.

"The firearms belong to a New Zealander who owns a ship anchored in the waters off Langkawi and the weapons are for security purposes but it is an offence to bring them ashore," the Rakyat Post reported.

The Borneo Post said 16 rifles were seized and the three men worked for the New Zealander.

A local police chief told Malaysian newspaper The Star that 15 rifles and 1579 rounds of ammunition were seized.

A 44-year-old British citizen and two locals, aged 44 and 45, were detained. "The suspects buried the firearms beside the house and covered it with canvas and zinc sheets," The Star added.

Police also alleged a permit was misused when the guns were purchased.

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This afternoon, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware of the reports but nobody had asked the ministry or the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for assistance in the case.