Thai police examine Turkish role in Bangkok blast

Police in Thailand have launchedĀ a probe into whether Turkish nationals were involved in a recent blast in the capital Bangkok, reports.Ā 

Officials said on Thursday that they were checking the arrivals of Turkish nationals inĀ Thailand in the days leading to August 17, when theĀ blast killed 20 people in Bangkokā€™s Hindu Erawan Shrine.

Turkey was infuriated last month afterĀ Thailand deported more than 100 Turkic-speakingĀ Uighurs to China, with people in Istanbul staging a demonstration in front of the Thai consulate.

Turks say they share many cultural and religious characteristicsĀ with the Uighurs who are mostly based in far westĀ China and complain aboutĀ discrimination by the Chinese government.

According to the Thai media, an investigation has been launched into the arrival of 15 to 20 Turkish people in Thailand over the two weeks before the blast.

ā€œThere are probably more Turkish [people]Ā coming into Thailand than that. We investigated groups which may have come into the country,ā€ Prawut Thavornsiri, the spokesman for ThaiĀ national police,Ā said.

Observers say the attack on the shrine may have been in retaliation forĀ Thailandā€™s decision on July 9 to deport Uighurs to China. They say a famous Turkish gang known as the Grey Wolves could be the prime suspect in the case.

Turkish authorities said they were aware of the probe on their nationals in Thailand, adding, however, that Bangkok has submitted no official request to Ankara for receiving relevantĀ information for the investigation.

The case of Uighurs has also sparked a diplomatic row between Turkey and China, with officials in Ankara accusing Beijing of being too harsh with the Muslim community. China defendsĀ its crackdown on the community, saying itsĀ members have intensified their attacks on civilians and security forces over the past years.