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Thais warned to avoid Myanmar border area after tourists abducted

Thais have been warned not to travel to the area of Myanmar bordering Kanchanaburi after a group of 37 tourists were taken hostage by the Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) on Saturday.



The group, who crossed the border at Payathonzu in Karen State, were reportedly captured by the military group early yesterday morning in apparent retaliation for the arrest by Thai authorities of underage sex workers under their control.

All 37 tourists were later released following negotiations involving Thai officers led by Pol Col Kwanchai Theerakul of Sangkhla Buri police, the Royal Thai Army, and local authorities.

However, authorities warned Thais to stay out of the Payathonzu area, because of the potential for another abduction.

A source within the authorities said that the BGF had been angered with the Thai authorities over a sting operation to arrest underage sex workers from Myanmar.

On Wednesday, the Thai police anti-people trafficking division arrested six prostitutes aged between 16 and 17 years as well as two agents who brought the girls from Payathonzu to Thailand.

The source also warned that the BGF was still angry over the operation and might capture Thais again, so tourists should refrain from travelling to Payathonzu now.

BGF is a Karen army group loyal to the Myanmar government. They now control several key areas along the border between Thailand and Karen State and are engaged in fighting other Karen groups opposed to the Myanmar government.

Published : January 21, 2017

By : The Nation