BANGKOK (AFP) – More than 250 Thais trapped in northern Myanmar by an upsurge in fighting between the junta and an alliance of ethnic minority groups are to be repatriated through China, Thailand’s foreign ministry said yesterday.
Fighting has surged across a swathe of Myanmar since late October, when the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) and Arakan Army (AA) launched attacks on the military. The rugged, jungle clad hills of northern Shan state, on the border with China, have been the focus of the alliance attacks, with fighting approaching the town of Laukkai – a notorious hub of gambling, prostitution and online scams – in recent days.
Thailand’s foreign ministry said in a statement Sunday that Myanmar authorities had helped 266 Thais to travel from Laukkai to the Chinese border, about 10 kilometres away.
The statement said Philippine and Singaporean nationals were also assisted, but gave no details about them. The ministry “has arranged two charter flights from Kunming (in China) to Bangkok for the group who upon arrival will undergo screening for human trafficking and any criminal records”, the statement said.
“Non-Thai nationals will be assisted by their respective embassies once arrived in Bangkok to travel on to their home countries.”
On Saturday, a group of 41 Thais who had been trapped by the Myanmar fighting were repatriated across the land border between the two Southeast Asian countries.