Bangkok: More than 200 illegal Muslim migrants arrested in southern Thailand earlier this month have their ethnic roots in Turkey though it will take more time to determine their exact nationality, a Thai official said here.
These migrants, whose exact origin remains unclear, had claimed they are from Anatolia – the Asian region of Turkey.
However, it is also widely speculated they might be Uyghurs from China’s restive Xinjiang province.
The migrants were arrested in Songhkla province, a Muslim-majority region in the Buddhist kingdom.
Authorities had on March 12 arrested 218 illegal migrants, including children and women.
On March 20, they arrested 77 illegal migrants, again including children and women.
“Clearly, they have come here as families. They have apparently planned to settle down somewhere else,” immigration official Thatchai Pitaneelaboot said.
He said the Turkish Embassy was being asked to help verify the nationality of the migrants.
“If their nationality is proven, we will send them back to their homeland.
But if they refuse, we will ask the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take care of them,”Thatchai said, adding, police have been cracking down on human-trafficking gangs.
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