Myanmar jet enters Thai airspace, prompting evacuations
BANGKOK (AP) — A Myanmar fighter jet crossed the border into Thailand’s airspace on Thursday, prompting Thai air force jets to scramble and officials to order the evacuation of villages and classrooms, officials said.
The Royal Thai Air Force said it dispatched two F-16 fighters to patrol the area after receiving a report of an aircraft that crossed into Thailand’s airspace while carrying out an attack in Myanmar territory held by an ethnic minority group. It asked the military attaché at the Thai Embassy in Myanmar to convey a warning to Myanmar authorities and work with them to avoid similar incidents in the future.
The sound of a fighter jet flying over Phop Phra district in Thailand’s Tak province alarmed local authorities, who ordered the evacuation of villages and schools in the area. Teachers at Wale School led over 200 elementary and middle school students from their classrooms to fortified buildings inside the school grounds for safety.
Local media reported that residents saw an aircraft that some identified as an MiG-29 making several circles into Thai airspace over villages and schools before firing on the Myanmar side.
Fighting between Myanmar government forces and ethnic guerrillas, many of whom live in border areas, has continued for decades but has intensified since the military seized power in February last year from a democratically elected government. The fighting has sent waves of refugees from Myanmar fleeing into Thailand. They are then sent back when the fighting recedes.