21 arrested after Myanmar shaman orders rescue mission

21 arrested after Myanmar shaman orders rescue mission

Twenty-one Karen ethnic people from Myanmar were detained at the district office in Ban Kha district of Ratchaburi awaiting coronavirus test results and police charges. (Photo by Saichon Srinuanchan)
Twenty-one Karen ethnic people from Myanmar were detained at the district office in Ban Kha district of Ratchaburi awaiting coronavirus test results and police charges. (Photo by Saichon Srinuanchan)

RATCHABURI: Twenty-one ethnic Karen people have been apprehended for sneaking into Thailand on the orders of their village shaman to rescue his friend from jail and take him back to Myanmar.

Acting on a tip-off, security authorities raided a house in Ban Kha district on Tuesday to apprehend 21 Karen men and women — all wearing uniform-style clothing — from Myanmar and take them to the district office.

All were tested for the coronavirus, and officials expect the results on Wednesday.

Deputy district chief Montree Pokanit said an interrogation revealed that the group lived in a village opposite Three Pagodas pass in Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi. They were assigned by village shaman Sochitrada to locate a friend arrested by police in Bang Pong district of Ratchaburi and return him to the village, he said.

Mao Mao, one of the arrested Karen, told reporters on Tuesday she and other villagers crossed the border in an unmanned area near Three Pagodas on Monday and travelled to the house in Ban Kha in five vans waiting to pick them up at the crossing. They did not realise what they did was against Thai law, she said.

The district official said on Wednesday all will be sent to Ban Kha police station after the Covid-19 test results to be charged with illegal entry into the country.

Anyone testing positive will be quarantined for 14 days, he added.

Mr Montri said authorities are looking for others involved in helping them enter the country and arranging their transport.


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