Three Pagodas Pass back in business

Three Pagodas Pass back in business

OPEN AGAIN: The Three Pagodas Pass border crossing in Kanchanaburi was closed after the Border Guard Force briefly held 37 Thai tourists.
OPEN AGAIN: The Three Pagodas Pass border crossing in Kanchanaburi was closed after the Border Guard Force briefly held 37 Thai tourists.

The Three Pagodas Pass border crossing into Myanmar in Kanchanaburi has reopened after being temporarily shut following a hostage-taking incident last month.

Col Banyong Thongnuam, chief of the 9th Infantry Division's Latya Task Force, yesterday said authorities decided to allow the crossing to open to Thais heading to Payathonzu, a Myanmar border town, via the checkpoint in Sangkhla Buri district after Myanmar authorities promised to prevent a recurrence of the incident.

Both Thai and Myanmar authorities also agreed to step up their efforts to provide security for their people as well as to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

Earlier, Thai tourists were temporarily prohibited from crossing the border into Myanmar after the Border Guard Force (BGF), a Karen security force, arrested 37 Thai tourists at a Payathonzu fresh market opposite the Three Pagodas Pass on Jan 21.

The tourists were freed that evening and returned safely to Thailand following negotiations between the police, military officers and local officials and the BGF.

The incident was in apparent reprisal for a sting operation conducted by police from the Anti-Human Trafficking Division on the Thai side which subsequently led to the arrest of underage sex workers in Payathonzu on Jan 18.

Yesterday the Three Pagodas Pass was bustling with tourists, particularly Thais, after the ban was lifted.

Most Thais travelled to Myanmar to visit the sacred temples in Payathonzu.

Over 100 local residents along the border reportedly work as tour guides with a service fee of 350 baht for each tourist.

Many Thai tourists are expected to visit the area during the Makha Bucha long weekend.

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