Myanmar jet violates airspace

Myanmar jet violates airspace

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) yesterday scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to patrol along the border in Tak province after a Myanmar fighter jet was spotted intruding into Thai airspace.

AVM Prapas Sonjaidee, spokesman for the RTAF, said a military unit under the RTAF reported that the Myanmar aircraft crossed into Thai airspace over Phop Phra district at 11.16am.

The jet launched air strikes on ethnic rebels along the border and intruded into Thai airspace before it disappeared from the RTAF's radar system, he said.

The RTAF deployed two F-16 fighter jets to conduct air patrols over the border district.

A source said later that Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had spoken with air force chief ACM Napadej Dhupatemiya about the intrusion and asked the air force to lodge a protest via the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Myanmar's air force attache in Yangon.

ACM Napadej later phoned his Myanmar counterpart about the incident. The Myanmar air force chief apologised and said such an incident would not happen again, said the source.

Fighting intensified between Myanmar government troops and Karen soldiers in Myawaddy border town, opposite Ban Wao Lay Tai village in Phop Phra district of Tak province yesterday.

The intrusion of the jet and loud explosions in Myanmar caused panic among villagers in two Thai border villages, prompting them to take shelter in bunkers.

Ban Wao Lay Tai School immediately suspended classes as the jet flew low over its buildings. Ban Wao Lay Nua School evacuated students into bunkers in the school compound. Parents also took shelter in the bunkers, and that school also suspended classes.

The source said many Myanmar villagers continued to flee into Thai territory in Phop Phra district following intensified junta attacks in their country.

Sayant Wongjai, a resident, said his pickup truck parked at an oil palm plantation at Ban Wao Lay village was damaged by shrapnel from the jet's missiles.

His vehicle was about one kilometre from the Myanmar border.

He said when the jet launched strikes along the border, loud bangs were clearly heard by many local residents.

Juthanan Boonpornwong, 61, of tambon Wao Lay, said she had lived in Ban Wao Lay village for more than 30 years and had never seen such intense fighting.



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