Navy rejects killings report

The Royal Thai Navy yesterday rejected a report by Hong Kong's South China Morning Post that members of the Thai navy shot dead at least two and as many as 15 Rohingya migrants in the sea off Phuket on Feb 22.

Third Region Navy Commander Tharathorn Khachitsuwan, who oversees the navy based in Phuket, said the report published yesterday was false.

"I would like readers to consider whether the report is based on the truth or not," Vice Admiral Tharathorn said.

He said he did not want to make any further comments on the matter and he called on the Thai media not to lend any credence to the report which he said tarnished the reputation of Thailand.

Vice Admiral Tharathorn said Rohingya migrants who are being sheltered in Thailand want the government to set up permanent shelters for them.

"Who will be able to take care of them permanently? In the past months we have given full help to them on a humanitarian basis," he said.The South China Morning Post report quoted three Rohingya survivors as saying the alleged killings, said to have taken place on Feb 22, happened as the navy attempted to transfer to a smaller vessel about 20 Rohingya migrants from the boat on which they had arrived from Myanmar with more than 100 others.

Some jumped into the water and they were fired upon, the report said. Survivors were quoted as saying they believed the shooters were Thai navy personnel.

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Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Position: Reporter