Hundreds of protestors storm Thai consulate in Turkey
ISTANBUL - Some 200 Turkish demonstrators stormed the Thai consulate in Istanbul in protest at the deportation of dozens of Uighur Muslims to China, reports said Thursday.
The attack was the latest in a series of nationalist-tinted protests in Turkey during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan over China's treatment of the Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern Xinjiang region.
Nine people were arrested after the action at the consulate building in Istanbul late Wednesday organised by a group calling itself East Turkestan Education Association, the Dogan news agency reported.
They broke down the doors to the building, pulled down the sign outside and damaged the furnishings inside.
The Thai flag was pulled down as the building was also pelted with stones, Dogan added. Files and documents were flung outside and littered the street, images showed.
Thailand on Thursday said it had deported around 100 Uighur Muslims detained in the kingdom since last year to China, in a move sparking fears for the safety of the asylum-seekers.
The fate of the Uighurs, who presented themselves to police as Turkish, had been the subject of a diplomatic tussle between Ankara and Beijing.
Turkey last week had summoned the Chinese ambassador to convey its "deep concerns" over alleged restrictions on the Uighur community during Ramadan. Beijing has denied any such restrictions.
Protests have taken place across the country, dealing a blow to relations between China and Turkey which have noticeably improved over the last few years.
On Saturday, Turkish nationalists attacked a group of South Korean tourists in the heart of Istanbul's old city, believing they were Chinese.
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) chief Devlet Bahceli added further fuel to the fire by saying the attack on the Koreans was understandable given that both peoples have "slitty eyes".
Meanwhile in a possible bid to ease tensions, a report by Turkey's state Anatolia news agency from inside Xinjiang said it found there were no special restrictions on Uighur Muslims during Ramadan.