BANGKOK (Reuters) – Five Thai students detained in Pakistan for trying to board a plane with a pistol and ammunition have no links to the Islamic State militant group or any criminal organisation, a Thai government spokesman said on Friday.
The men, who had been studying at a religious school in Pakistan, were trying to catch a flight on Monday night when they were intercepted. Four of them have since been released, Thai officials said on Friday.
“We have no evidence that there are any links at all between the students and any criminal organisation, so news that there is a link between ISIS and the students is not true,” Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a deputy government spokesman, told Reuters.
On Friday, Thai newspaper the Bangkok Post reported that two of the five were suspected of having links to Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS. The report cited intelligence sources.
An investigation into the students’ families found no links with violence in Thailand’s southern region, where there has been a long-running Muslim separatist insurgency, Army Chief Udomdej Sitabutr told reporters on Friday.
The four students who were released were being sent back to Thailand while the fifth remains in custody for further investigation, Thai National Security Council Secretary-General Anusit Kunakorn told reporters on Friday.