Thai po­lice ques­tion Uighur trio over blast

The China Post - - LIFE -

Thai po­lice on Fri­day said three Uighur Mus­lims, among dozens de­tained in the king­dom for illegal en­try last year, have been ques­tioned over the deadly Bangkok bomb­ing.

Eleven days on from the bomb­ing at Erawan shrine, which killed 20 peo­ple and wounded scores more, author­i­ties are hunt­ing for a prime sus­pect who po­lice de­scribe as a for­eign man.

No ar­rests have been made, de­spite the cir­cu­la­tion of grainy CCTV footage of the lead sus­pect.

Se­cu­rity an­a­lysts have spec­u­lated that China’s eth­nic Uighur mi­nor­ity — or their co-re­li­gious sym­pa­thiz­ers — may have been be­hind the at­tack, mo­ti­vated by Thai­land’s forced repa­tri­a­tion of more than 100 Uighur refugees last month to an un­cer­tain fate in China.

“Po­lice in

(eastern) Sa Kaeo prov- ince have ques­tioned three Uighurs,” na­tional po­lice chief Gen­eral Somyot Poom­pan­moung told re­porters in Bangkok on Fri­day, with­out giv­ing any fur­ther de­tails.

Scores of sus­pected Uighurs — a Tur­kic-speak­ing mi­nor­ity in main­land China’s north­west­ern Xin­jiang re­gion who have long chafed un­der Chi­nese con­trol — were sen­tenced for illegal en­try in Thai­land in March 2014.

Many were found to have en­tered the king­dom along its eastern bor­der with Cam­bo­dia, with the big­gest check point in Sa Kaeo province, as oth­ers were dis­cov­ered dur­ing a raid on a sus­pected peo­ple-smug­gling camp in the king­dom’s deep south.

They pre­sented them­selves to po­lice as Turk­ish and were held in de­ten­tion as Thai author­i­ties de­ter­mined their na­tion­al­i­ties, amid a bit­ter tus­sle be­tween Tur­key and main­land Chi­nese author­i­ties over where they should be moved.

Then in July, Thai­land sud­denly de­ported 109 Uighurs to China — a move widely con­demned by rights groups and the U.S. over fears for their safety — while an ear­lier group of 172 women and chil­dren were sent to Tur­key.

At the time the Thai junta said around 50 Uighur Mus­lims re­mained in immigration de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, as their na­tion­al­i­ties were be­ing con­firmed.

A Thai po­lice spokesman on Thurs­day re­fused to “ex­clude any pos­si­bil­ity” when asked whether Turk­ish na­tion­als in the coun­try had been ques­tioned over the Bangkok shrine bomb.

Uighurs in Xian­jiang, who num­ber around 10 mil­lion, have long ac­cused China of cul­tural and re­li­gious re­pres­sion.

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