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Seven Lahu shot dead in drug clash in North

A clash between Thai security officers and a drug caravan in Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai on Friday night resulted in the deaths of seven suspects and the seizure of 700,000 'ya ba' pills, police said yesterday.

Pha Muang Task Force chief Major-General Banjerd Changpoonthong and Chiang Rai police chief Maj-General Wanchai Suwansirikhate inspected the incident site in tambon Mae Salong Nai where patrolling officers encountered an armed group of up to 10 drug-smuggling Lahu suspects.

The officers said they signalled for the suspects to stop to be search but the suspects opened fire and threw a grenade at them, resulting to a brief gunfight that resulted in the deaths.

Police seized seven backpacks containing the 'ya ba' and an M76 grenade.

Banjerd said the operation was the result of a previous investigation which found that the caravan would come through the area between April 8-20. He said the drugs would have a street value of Bt31 million.

In a separate incident, Wanchai told yesterday's press conference that police manning a checkpoint in Phan, Chiang Rai on Friday had arrested Suriyan Wuyeu, 20, and seized Bt100,000 worth of 'ya ba'.

Wanchai said Suriyan had been travelling on a Bangkok-bound bus.

Suriyan reportedly confessed to having been hired by a person in Chiang Rai to deliver the drugs to a customer in Bangkok.


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