CHIANG RAI: A commander of Tachileik in Myanmar has informed Thailand that the interrogation of the 41 Thais rescued from illicit businesses in Laukkaing township has concluded, and their repatriation is expected to be approved within the next few days, according to the Thai army.
The army reported on a meeting between Col Nathee Thomsen, commander of the Thap Chao Tak Taskforce of the Pha Muang Force, and Col Thura Zaw Lwin Soe, tactical operation commander of Tachileik, at the customs checkpoint in Tachileik on Friday. The Thai side wanted to discuss the reasons behind the delay in repatriating the 41 Thais and find ways to facilitate the process.
During the meeting, Col Nathee was informed that Myanmar authorities will likely approve their repatriation within the next few days.
After receiving approval, the 41 Thais would be immediately transported to the Tactical Operation Command in Tachileik, a border town across from Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai province. There, the group would be received by Col Nathee.
Earlier on Friday, Col Nathee said that the Thai side is ready to fully cooperate with Myanmar to ensure their safe repatriation.
He said that the 41 Thais had travelled the furthest from Laukkaing towards the Thai border in Chiang Rai province. They were held in Kengtung of Shan State, which is only a four-hour drive to Tachileik. The group arrived in Kengtung late Wednesday night.
He said that the Thai people were receiving good care from the Myanmar military. However, Myanmar authorities sought to question them regarding their entry into Laukkaing, which borders China and is known for illicit activities.
Col Nathee quoted Myanmar as earlier saying that upon the completion of the process concerning the Thai returnees, Thai officials could conveniently drive vehicles into Tachileik to pick them up.
The 41 Thais, comprising 23 men and 18 women, were among 162 Thais rescued from Laukkaing in the self-administered Kokang zone of Shan State.
Col Nathee Thimsen, commander of Thap Chao Tak ad hoc unit, speaks to reporters at the 37th Military Circle in Muang district of Chiang Rai on Friday morning. (Photo supplied)