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Security Measures Stepped Up in Thailand Following Uighurs “linked to terror” Visit | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jakarta attack reactions in Bangkok

BANGKOK, April 9 – Thai authorities have stepped up security measures following two ethnic Uighur men from China linked to “foreign terror groups” visited a holiday island, said a senior officer said on Saturday. There are suspicions and fears of a militant attack in Southeast Asia that have been on rise lately, especially after the ISIS group claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital back in January where eight people were killed, noting that four of them were attackers.

Police Lieutenant General Suchart Teerasawat stated to media that a the end of March, two Uighurs came to Phuket and stayed one night and then left Thailand, where in his statement he was referring to a tourist island on Thailand’s Indian Ocean coast. Suchart added; “These two have links to foreign terror groups”.

The latter also said that the police did not have information about Uighurs, nor about how they met neither where they went on the island. But assured that there are investigations that are going on regarding this matter, and informed that the pair travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia after staying for one night. Also he said; “We understand they were eventually caught in Indonesia”.
Suchart stated authorities were also investigating several ethnic Chechens following reports last week that some were on Phuket.

In addition to the aforementioned, Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Thursday that he had demanded investigation of Uighur and Chechen visitors who could have entered Thailand on forged travel documents. Mentioning that 2 Chinese ethnic Uighur men were caught by authorities last year, for their involvement in an August 17 bombing at a Bangkok shrine that lead to the loss of 20 deal people. They were later charged with murder and possession of explosives.

Authorities said the bomb was in retaliation for a crackdown on human smuggling gangs and not a “terrorist” attack. However, the Uighur people from China’s far west are mainly of a Muslim minority and Chinese authorities accuse some of them of being involved in militancy.

In March, Two ethnic Uighurs were killed by the Indonesian forces for being linked up with an Indonesian militant on Sulawesi Island. Also another 4 Uighurs were put in jail in Indonesia last year after attempting to become part of the same network.

China has said Uighurs are considered as an increasing threat to Indonesia, noting that China has long come under criticism for its treatment of Uighur Muslims. In the recent years 100s of people have died in unrest in the west China region of Xinjiang, where most Uighurs live. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Uighurs keen to escape unrest at home have travelled via Southeast Asia to Turkey.

Some Chechens from Russia are known to have join militants in South Asia and Syria. Suchart said intelligence showed four Chechens planned to enter Thailand last month but two of them were caught in Malaysia before they were able to travel.

“The location of the other two is not known,” he said.