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Thais told to avoid Three Pagodas Pass into Burma

A soldier stands guard at the checkpoint in Burma’s Payathonzu district, opposite the Three Pagodas Pass near the border with Thailand on 7 November 2010. (Photo: Reuters)

Tourists have been advised not to across the border into Burma at the Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi in the wake of a hostage­taking incident at the weekend.

Sirun Boonsung, acting Sangkhla Buri district chief, said Monday tourists should avoid the crossing for their own safety.

The Three Pagodas Pass is in Sangkhla Buri district.

The warning came after a Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) arrested 35 Thai tourists at a fresh market opposite the Three Pagodas Pass on Saturday morning in Payathonzu village, which is opposite Sangkhla Buri district.

The detained tourists were freed that evening and returned home safely to Thailand following negotiations between the police, military officers and local officials, in which the BGF agreed to release them.

The detention was in response to a sting operation conducted by police from Thailand’s Anti­-Human Trafficking Division that led to the arrest of underage sex workers in Payathonzu on 18 January.

Sirun urged tourists to take a break from crossing the border pass to avoid any security risk for the time being, saying they can go shopping in places on the Thai side of the border. However, Thai and Burmese border authorities have not stepped up security, he said, adding the border is open as usual.

This story was originally published by the Bangkok Post here.