Shanghai police has detained 10 Turkish nationals for allegedly assisting nine "terror suspects" in Xinjiang escape from the country by supplying them with fake passports, reports said, citing the Global Times, a local newspaper. Earlier in November, another 11 people, including the nine ethnic Uighurs and two Chinese nationals, were taken in police custody. The two Chinese men had reportedly helped the men in their attempt to cross the country's border illegally.
The nine men, who belonged to the Muslim Uighur community, had forged Turkish passports and were arrested from the Shanghai airport when they were trying to board an international flight, The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported. The suspects had reportedly said that they planned to go to Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but did not mention their motive.
Terrorism-related audio and video materials were reportedly found with the suspects, police said, according to reports, adding that the men had paid 60 thousand yuan ($9,681) each for the fake passports. The Turkish men could now potentially face a sentence of two to seven years in jail, China Radio International (CRI) reported.
China’s far-western region Xinjiang has witnessed violence for a long time amid ongoing clashes between the Muslim Uighur community and the ethnic majority of Han Chinese. The clashes have killed hundreds of people so far, Reuters reported. Chinese government says that the region is home to people with separatist intentions, but the Uighur community blames Beijing's repressive policies for the unrest in the region.
In October, Malaysian authorities had detained 155 people belonging to the Uighur community in Kuala Lumpur. Among them, 76 were children and the authorities found them cramped up in two apartments, with fake Turkish passports.