Thai officials wanted over alleged people smuggling

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A Thai court approved a warrant for the arrest of four officials for alleged involvement with the smuggling of migrants from Myanmar, an official confirmed Monday.

The suspects were a naval officer and three army officers working for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), tasked with overseeing security in the region, Songkhla provincial court said Sunday.

“The news of the warrant is true but I do not want to comment until we know all the details,” ISOC Spokesman Colonel Banphot Phunpien said.

More than 150 warrants have been issued against officials suspected of involvement with human trafficking, with 89 detained including an army general.

“Many have fled the country,” Banphot said.

The trafficking, mainly of Myanmar’s Muslim ethnic Rohingya minority, came to light this year after investigators discovered mass graves of refugees at trafficking camps in southern Thailand and Malaysia.

An international outcry led the government to crack down on people-smuggling networks, sparking a humanitarian crisis with thousands of migrants being stranded in boats off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Rohingya Muslims say they suffer discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which considers them illegal Bengali immigrants, and not one of the country’s official ethnic groups.

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