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Burma detains dozens of Thai villagers

July 07, 2012

BANGKOK, Thailand – At least 70 Thai nationals have been detained in neighbouring Burma after illegally crossing the border to work on rubber and palm plantations, the Thai military said Friday (July 6th), according to AFP.

Burmese soldiers raided a settlement of temporary huts to detain the villagers, who had entered from the southern Thai province of Ranong to work on plantations illegally established in forests across the porous border.

Thai military officials said they had begun talks with their Burma counterparts to secure the release of women and children and gain medical access to the villagers.

"We had talks (Thursday) and all of them are safe," said Colonel Pornsak Poolsawad of the Thai-Burma Border Committee, adding the villagers had ignored warnings from Burma's authorities to leave the area.

Confirming the detentions, Thai deputy prime minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said he was confident that "all will be freed".

Local media estimates said up to 500 villagers had been detained.

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