BANGKOK: Thailand said yesterday 10 people who took refuge in the Japanese embassy would have to leave the country because domestic intelligence sources found they were North Koreans who had entered illegally.
“These people will need to be sent back through the channel that they came from,” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told reporters. He said the intelligence sources had said they came to Thailand through southern China.
Earlier, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said the group – four men, four women, one boy and one girl – appeared to hold identity cards issued by the UN refugee agency.
“It is up to Japan to decide on their asylum-seeking request,” Surakiart told reporters.
The group – the two children were under 10 – had rushed up to a Japanese official and pleaded for sanctuary at the embassy compound in central Bangkok.
Last year, more than 1,000 North Koreans reached South Korea via China and other countries after fleeing hunger and repression in their homeland, which is embroiled in a dispute with the international community over its nuclear programme.
A Korean-speaking Japanese diplomat was due to arrive from Seoul today to interview the group and confirm whether they were North Korean. – Reuters
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