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Thai police chief links Bangkok blast to smuggling of China's Uighur Muslims to Turkey

  • FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2015 file photo, Thai police chief Somyot Poompanmoung talks to reporters outside of an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok. Somyot said Tuesday, Sept. 15 that authorities are now certain that last month's deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine was related to the trafficking of Uighur Muslims from China to Turkey. (AP Photo/Sakchi Lalit, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2015 file photo, Thai police chief Somyot Poompanmoung talks to reporters outside of an apartment on the outskirts of Bangkok. Somyot said Tuesday, Sept. 15 that authorities are now certain that last month's deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine was related to the trafficking of Uighur Muslims from China to Turkey. (AP Photo/Sakchi Lalit, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2015 file photo, police investigate the scene at the Erawan Shrine after an explosion in Bangkok. Thailand's national police chief said Tuesday, Sept. 15 that authorities are now certain that last month's deadly bombing at the shrine was related to the trafficking of Uighur Muslims from China to Turkey. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2015 file photo, police investigate the scene at the Erawan Shrine after an explosion in Bangkok. Thailand's national police chief said Tuesday, Sept. 15 that authorities are now certain that last month's deadly bombing at the shrine was related to the trafficking of Uighur Muslims from China to Turkey. (AP Photo/Mark Baker, File)  (The Associated Press)

Police in Thailand say they are now certain that last month's deadly bombing at a Bangkok shrine was related to the trafficking of Uighur (WEE-gur) Muslims from China to Turkey.

National police chief Somyot Poompanmoung's comments Tuesday marked the first time authorities have publicly linked the Aug. 17 bombing to the smuggling of Uighur Muslims.

Somyot said the bombing was the result of a crackdown on a trafficking network "that smuggles Uighurs from one country to another."

Uighurs, an ethnic minority in western China, are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community.

Thai authorities have avoided calling the bombing an act of terrorism, which they fear would harm Thailand's image as a tourist destination.

The blast left 20 people dead and more than 120 injured.