Uighur, Chechen tourists placed under surveillance

Uighur, Chechen tourists placed under surveillance

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon claimed Thursday he ordered surveillance of four Uighur and Chechen tourists because they might have entered the country on fake passports or planned to launch terrorist attacks.

Police denied the security threat and said there is no record of any such people ever entering Thailand.

In Gen Prawit's version, surveillance had begun because the two visitor groups have been involved in passport forgery. Immigration police and other security agencies were monitoring the aliens, he added.

"We have two theories. They may have snuck into Thailand to have their fake passports done so that they can travel to another country. Or they may have arrived for terror attacks," Gen Prawit said.

Police denied this completely. Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said he checked with the police Immigration Bureau and confirmed the reports were untrue.

Pol Gen Srivara's comments contradicted earlier reports that the Interior Ministry and intelligence sources ordered officials to be on the lookout for two Uighur individuals who were said to have arrived in Phuket late last month.

The officials were told to be cautious as the individuals “could be targeting Chinese tourists or Chinese interests” in Thailand. The reports also said two Chechens also arrived in Phuket on an undisclosed date.

They could also be looking to cause unrest in areas with a large concentration of Russians, such as Phuket and Koh Samui, said the reports.

Earlier two Uighur Chinese men were charged plotting the Erawan shrine bombing in Bangkok on Aug 17. The explosion killed 20 people and injured 130 others.

The defendants were identified as Bilal Mohammed, 31, and Mieraili Yusufu, 26. They denied their charges. The Military Court set April 20-22 for the inspection of evidence.

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