LAHORE - Officials said Thursday they have detained five Thai nationals for trying to board a plane with a pistol and ammunition.

A handgun and bullets were found in the Thais’ luggage as they checked in for a Thai Airways flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on Monday, they said. “Five nationals of Thailand, supposedly students, were detained on June 8 after a 32-bore pistol and six live bullets were found in the luggage of one of them,” an official from the Airport Security Force (ASF) told AFP.

“The detainees were later handed over to the relevant investigative authorities,” he added on condition of anonymity.

An official from the Federal Investigation Authority also confirmed the arrests. Pakistan has recently beefed up security at its airports and inspectors have arrested several people involved in smuggling currency and drugs.

On Thursday Thailand’s deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said authorities were investigating why the students were carrying the weapons. So far they had not been linked to any insurgent groups including in Thailand’s conflict-plagued south, he told reporters in Bangkok. Sek Wannamethee, spokesman for the kingdom’s foreign ministry, later told AFP that Thai embassy officials in Islamabad were “still coordinating with Pakistani authorities” to visit the students detained in Lahore.

According to Reuters, the men, all Thais who had been studying at a religious school in Pakistan, were trying to catch a flight on Monday night when they were intercepted, four officials said. It was not clear why one of the four men was carrying the pistol and several bullets wrapped in foil, or if any of the men have militant links. “The boys are studying at a religious seminary,” said one official. “They were going back on vacation.”

Another official said that the men were in their early 20s.

“One of them managed to clear all checkpoints and board the Bangkok-bound flight of Thai Airways while other three were caught on the third and the final checkpoint after a security official scanned their bags,” he said. The fourth man was detained after the other three identified him, he said.The Thais were being interrogated, the officials said, and arrests had been made in Swat Valley, where the men studied, and Peshawar.

According to TV reports, the Thai accused were planning to hijack the plane.