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20 Uighur inmates dig their way out of Thai jail

By Daniel Uria
A group of 20 Uighur Muslim inmates dug their way out of a prison near the border of Thailand and Malaysia on Monday. Image courtesy of Google Maps
A group of 20 Uighur Muslim inmates dug their way out of a prison near the border of Thailand and Malaysia on Monday. Image courtesy of Google Maps

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A group of 20 Uighur Muslims are on the run after a jailbreak at a detention center near the border between Thailand and Malaysia, officials said.

Police were notified that 25 men had drilled holes through a bathroom wall at a detention center in Songkhla's Sadao district and used blankets to climb over barbed wire and out out of their cell, district police chief Col. Seksan Kaewsawang said.

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The men were among 200 Uighurs captured and detained in 2014 after fleeing their home region of Xinjiang in China to escape oppression.

Five were captured after police were made aware of the escape and 20 remain at large.

Lt. Gen. Sutthiwong Wongpin, acting chief of the Immigration Bureau, said six immigration officers, including the chief of Songkhla's immigration office, were transferred out of the province immediately following news of the jailbreak.

He said there was a probe into the jailbreak to determine if the officers were negligent or allowed the inmates to escape.

Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims that have faced years of persecution and have been branded as terrorists in China.

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The 25 men held at the detention center were awaiting legal hearings after their claimed nationality was not confirmed due to lack of documents.

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