Thailand puts two Turkish nationals on watchlist after Singapore alert

BANGKOK - Thailand has put two Turkish nationals on its security watchlist after an alert from Singapore, it was reported.

Singapore warned Thailand to watch out for three Turkish nationals suspected of plotting an attack against Chinese interests on Thai soil, the Bangkok Post said on Thursday (April 21).

The Nation newspaper reported that the men were ethnic Uighur.

One of them, identified as Ali Yalcin, 36, was found to have visited Thailand twice this year.

Thailand's immigration database showed Mr Yalcin arrived at Don Mueang airport on March 18 from Singapore on an Air Asia flight and left for Cambodia on March 22, the Bangkok Post reported.

He had travelled with another Turkish national Arif Yilmaz, 35, who was not among the names given by Singapore.

Mr Yalcin re-entered Thailand on March 24 and left for Malaysia via Phuket International Airport on March 28. There was no record of a third entry, according to the report.

Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, chief of the immigration bureau, said authorities have put the other two Turkish men - who were not identified - on their watch list and are awaiting more details from Singapore, according to the Bangkok Post.

He was quoted as saying that the men have no criminal record in the country and no warrants for their arrest have been issued by Interpol.

The immigration chief said security authorities have been keeping a close watch on Turkish nationals and Mr Yalcin was picked out at random for questioning when he arrived on March 18. At that time immigration had no information about him.

General Thawip Netniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council, said Singapore had issued a warning about the three Uighurs, The Nation reported. "We got the warning on April 19," he added.

On Aug 17 last year, a blast at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, a tourist spot popular with visitors from China and elsewhere in Asia, killed 20 people and injured more than 120.

The Thai police have maintained that the motive for the bombing was Thailand's earlier crackdown on human smuggling networks.

But many analysts, diplomats and even Thai officials say the bombing was likely an act of revenge for Thailand's deportation to China of more than 100 Uighur Muslims in July last year.