Myanmar detains dozens of Thai villagers
Nearly 50 Thai nationals have been detained in neighbouring Myanmar after illegally crossing the border to run rubber and palm plantations, the Thai military said Friday.
Saturday 7 July 2012, 01:12PM
Myanmar soldiers raided a settlement of temporary huts to detain the villagers, who had entered from the southern Thai province of Ranong to work on plantations illegally established in forests across the porous border.
The Thai military said they had begun talks with their Myanmar counterparts to secure the release of women and children and gain medical access to the villagers.
"I have been informed by Myanmar soldiers... that they have detained 48 Thais," Colonel Pornsak Poolsawad, of the Thai-Myanmar Border Committee said, adding the villagers had ignored warnings from Myanmar's authorities to leave the area.
"Myanmar soldiers have asked for more time to check the area before they allow us to visit the detained Thais... they guarantee that all are safe and well." Previously the number detained was estimated to be at least 70.
Confirming the detentions, which took place on Wednesday, one of Thailand's deputy prime ministers, Yutthasak Sasiprapa, said he was confident that "all will be freed".
Thailand shares a 2,400 kilometre (1,500 mile) border with Myanmar and Ranong is a key crossing point used by workers from both sides.