50 Rohingya held as traffickers flee

50 Rohingya held as traffickers flee

Fifty Rohingya Muslims were detained the Thai traffickers who allegedly smuggled them through Thailand escaped after one of their vehicles slammed into a power pole in Phangnga province early Monday.

Some 30 officials and volunteers led by Takua Pa district chief Manit Pianthong  had been on guard in Takua Pa district since Sunday night following a tip that a human-trafficking gang would traverse the area to smuggle illegal Rohingya migrants en route to Malaysia. The officials hid in a roadside rubber plantation, in Bangkrak Nai village in tambon Khok Kian awaiting their arrival, Manager Online reported Monday.

At about 3.30am, a pickup truck with a Bangkok license plate came through the area, prompting the officers and volunteers to stop the vehicle for a search. But the driver sped past and hit two vehicles parked nearby. Even then, however, the driver did not stop. Still attempting to escape, he slammed into a roadside power pole.  He managed to flee before officials could apprehend him, abandoning the damaged truck and 16 Royingya inside.

Two other pickups also sped past before the drivers fled into a palm-tree plantation, leaving their vehicles and migrants on the road.

A total of 50 Rohingya were rounded up. The migrants, including six children, had been smuggled from neighbouring Ranong province. Authorities have stepped up a hunt for the three drivers, who were Thais.

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