Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says Myanmar has apologised after one of its fighter jets crossed into Thailand’s airspace over Tak province on Thursday and insists the incursion was not a big deal.
The Myanmar military informed the Thai military that the intrusion was unintentional, as the jet crossed into the Thai border by a small distance when it was making a turn, Gen Prayut, also the defence minister, said on Friday.
Following the incident, the Royal Thai Air Force had deployed two F-16 jet fighters to conduct air patrols over Tak's Phop Phra district, which shares the border with Myanmar. Military attaches from the two countries had discussed the issue, and the Myanmar military had already offered an apology, he said.
“This (incursion) may be viewed as a big issue, but it depends on us whether we want to make it bigger or not. Now, the two countries enjoy a good relationship. When anything happens, we raise it for discussion,” Gen Prayut said.
“More importantly, Thailand has the capacity to defend the territorial sovereignty. In the future, we have to see how strong and modern we are. This (incursion) is not a big deal.”
An MiG-29 Myanmar air force fighter jet intruded about 4-5 kilometres into Thailand’s airspace, over areas between Ban Wao Lay Tai and Ban Wao Lay Nua villages on Thursday morning.
The intrusion of the jet fighter and loud explosives in Myanmar caused panic among villagers in the two Thai border villages. Two schools immediately suspended classes as the fighter jet flew lower over its buildings.
National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Supoj Malaniyom said on Friday the Royal Thai Armed Forces and the Defence Ministry have closely monitored fighting between Myanmar troops and ethnic minority rebels along the border in Tak.
“The Royal Thai Air Force had clearly explained several rounds on the latest incident (incursion) that happened on June 30, but what we must give more emphasis is that all military units have to be on extra alert,” Gen Supoj said.
“However, the armed conflict does not involve Thailand and Myanmar, but this is Myanmar’s internal affairs that affect Thailand. We must raise the issue by following proper procedures at all levels, and we have already done it.”
On the recent influx of Myanmar residents to flee fighting into Thailand, Gen Supoj said measures have already been put in place as this situation has not just happened, but it has happened 4-5 times a year.
Tak officials said there were 856 Myanmar residents taking refuge at two temporary shelters in tambon Wao Lay in Phop Phra district – 306 Myanmar villagers at Ban Morker Tai and 550 at Ban Waolay Nua.