Thailand is seeking Malaysia’s cooperation in sending back Uighurs escapees believed to have slipped into the country after escaping from an immigration detention centre in Sadao yesterday.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, five of the 20 Uighur escapees had been recaptured, but he did not furnish details on the location of where they were found or which country arrested them.

“Five of them have been recaptured and the rest have crossed the border (into Malaysia). So, now we are contacting our counterparts in Malaysia to send them back to us,” he told the media after attending the weekly cabinet meeting, here, today.

He said there were 100 to 200 Uighurs currently under detention in Thailand.

In the 2am (local time) incident yesterday, 20 ethnic Uighurs awaiting repatriation to their home country escaped from Sadao’s immigration detention centre. Officials believe they headed to the nearby jungle at the Malaysia-Thailand border.

The Uighurs who escaped, detained at the centre since 2014, had dug a hole in the wall of their cell and climbed down the building using blankets.

Eight of the centre’s immigration officers had been transferred as the authorities began an investigation into the breakout.

Meanwhile, Prawit said the Uighurs currently detained in Thailand could be sent back to their original country, birth country or a third country.

“For example, we deported some of them back to China as evidence proved they were born in China and had committed offences there, so we deported them to China.

“Some Uighur women and children have been deported to third countries as they do not have a criminal record,” said Prawit, adding that the authorities had planned to bring the 20 Uighurs to Bangkok before they escaped.

Meanwhile, in Songkhla, southern Thailand, Immigration police chief, Lt Gen Suthipong Wongping who toured the detention centre, said they had already informed their Malaysian counterparts about the Uighurs’ escape.

He said the authorities had managed to retrace the escape routes taken by the Uighurs and believed all of them had slipped out of Thailand.

He said the Immigration police had also set up a committee to investigate the incident.-BERNAMA

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