24 more Thais repatriated to Chiang Rai

24 more Thais repatriated to Chiang Rai

Another group of 24 Thais, trapped in northern Myanmar due to escalating clashes between Myanmar soldiers and ethnic rebel groups, were repatriated to the Mae Sai border district of Chiang Rai province yesterday.

Myanmar authorities notified their Thai counterparts about the repatriation of the 16 men and eight women.

The evacuees were moved from Laukkai to Kengtung in Myanmar's Shan State amid the conflict between Myanmar soldiers and an alliance of ethnic minority groups -- the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Ta'ang National Liberation Army and Arakan Army.

The 24 Thais were under the protection of Myanmar soldiers in Kengtung, about 168 kilometres north of Mae Sai. The group left Kengtung around 7am yesterday.

They were handed to Thai authorities at the permanent border checkpoint in Mae Sai on the same day, according to a source at the Thai-Myanmar border.

Of the Thais, the youngest was an 18-year-old woman, while the oldest was a 35-year-old man. All will undergo health check-ups before being handed over to officials at Chiang Rai immigration checkpoint.

The Third Army's public relations centre said on its Facebook page that the 24 individuals were handed over to army officers at the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Mae Sai at about 11.30am yesterday.

On Sunday, the first group of 41 Thai nationals were moved by Myanmar authorities from Wa state to Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai before returning home.

On Monday, another group of 266 Thais who were evacuated by Myanmar authorities from the border town of Laukkaing in Shan State to Kunming in China on Sunday, arrived at Don Mueang airport on two commercial flights.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said the 24 returnees have taken the number of Thais repatriated from Myanmar to 331.

But some Thai nationals are still trapped in northern Myanmar and the government is stepping up efforts to repatriate them, he said.

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