Trek home hits border snag

Trek home hits border snag

Twenty-six Muslim Cambodians, including women and children, were arrested as they prepared to cross illegally back into Cambodia near Rong Kluea Market in Sa Kaeo yesterday.

Pol Col Thanapong Phothi, superintendent of Klong Luek police station in Aranyaprathet district, said police had been patrolling the border when they came across the Cambodians.

According to Pol Col Thanapong, the 26 people included seven men, 11 women and eight children. The women all wore hijab head scarves.

Police investigators found the group members all had Cambodian passports with immigration stamps showing they had entered Thailand in March before leaving for Malaysia through the border checkpoint in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat on March 17.

However, there were no records of them arriving back in Thailand.

The adult members of the group told police they went to Malaysia through Thailand before the Covid-19 pandemic forced border closures in April. They had spent four months in Malaysia where they worked. They missed home and decided to slip into Thailand illegally via the natural border in Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat on Tuesday and headed to Sa Kaeo from where they planned to cross into Cambodia.

The group paid the drivers of two vans 1,300 baht each to take them to Klong Luek in Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaeo.

Their plan was to set out on foot and cross the natural border near the market. They were tested for Covid-19 infection before being remanded in police custody.

In Loei, immigration police have arrested six Laos workers and charged them with illegal entry and working without a permit.

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