PM says incursion of Myanmar jet into Thai airspace not a big deal
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said today (Friday) that the incursion into Thai airspace of a Myanmar MiG-29 jet, which flew over Tak province yesterday, is not a big deal, noting that the Myanmar military has already offered an apology and that the two countries enjoy good relations.
After the incident, he said that the Thai military had talked with their Myanmar counterparts about the incursion and he, too, had discussed the issue, adding that the Myanmar military explained that their pilot had no intention to infringe upon Thai airspace, but needed to make a turn, resulting in the plane to crossing into Thai territory.
The Royal Thai Air Force had scrambled two F-16 jet fighters, but the Myanmar MiG-29 was already back in Myanmar.
Prayut assured the public that the Thai military has the capability to defend the Thai territorial sovereignty.
The MiG-29 jet appeared to be providing support to Myanmar ground troops battling the Karen rebel forces entrenched in their base near the Thai border in Phop Phra district.
The presence of the aircraft caused panic among Thais in two villages. A school suspended classes and ordered all students to take cover in a bomb shelter in the school’s compound.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of the National Security Council, Gen Supot Malaniyom, said that incursions by Myanmar forces have happened 4-5 times this year.
He insisted that the fighting between the Myanmar government forces and the rebels was an internal problem, but it has impacts on the Thai side of the border.
He said Thai troops at the border there have, therefore, been ordered to tighten up measures to prevent the fighting from spilling over, adding that the Thai military and the Foreign Ministry have coordinated with their Myanmar counterparts to prevent a repeat of such an incursion in the future.
More than 500 Karen civilians are now taking refuge in temples or close to the border in two border villages.