Thais caught with gun in Pakistan return home

BANGKOK - A group of Thai students who were detained in Pakistan after one of them was caught carrying a gun through Lahore airport returned home Thursday after officials secured their release.

Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the students -- who all hailed from the kingdom's Muslim-majority deep south - left Lahore late Wednesday evening.

The Thai government has said the students are not linked to any insurgent groups including in Thailand's conflict-plagued south where ethnic Malay Muslims have been fighting for a level of autonomy.

"All the Thai students are in good health and good spirits as they have returned to their respective hometowns," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not say whether any deal was struck to secure the group's release or whether they still faced any charges.

The five students were detained by Pakistani police on 8 June after a handgun and bullets were found in one of the Thais' luggage as they checked in for a flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport.

The group's release comes as a former senior Thai policeman was arrested earlier this week in Japan after he was caught carrying a loaded pistol through Narita airport.

Comronwit Toopgrajank, a former Bangkok police chief, was detained on Monday as he tried to fly back to Thailand.

Officials stationed at the airport discovered a revolver with five live rounds in the 60-year-old's suitcase and arrested him on the spot on suspicion of violating gun laws.

Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha has ordered officials to investigate whether Comronwit was able to take the pistol through Thai airport security before flying to Japan.

Channel 3 television Thursday quoted Thai officials at Suvanabhumi aiport saying they were adamant no sign of a weapon was picked up when Comronwit passed through security.