Thai air force scrambles fighters after alleged incursion by Myanmar aircraft
The Royal Thai Air Force sent two F-16 jet fighters after an aircraft, believed to be a MiG 29 of the Myanmar air force, was found to have intruded into Thai airspace in the western province of Tak, according to RTAF Spokesman Air Vice Marshal Prapas Sornchaidee.
He said that the RTAF also instructed its attaché, based at the Thai embassy in Myanmar, to warn their Myanmar counterpart about the alleged intrusion and not to repeat the incident.
The MiG 29 was sighted about noon today (Thursday), flying above the Ban Valley Tai and Ban Valley Nua in Phop Phra district, as it engaged in an air strike against anti-government rebel positions near the Thai border with Myanmar.
The presence of the aircraft, which was noticed by many people in the two villages, caused panic as they scrambled to take cover. A school in Ban Valley Nua immediately suspended classes and ordered all students to run to the bomb shelter in the school’s compound.
There was, however, no report of cross-border shelling.
Myanmar government forces have been trying to suppress Karen rebel forces based near Thailand’s western border for decades, but without success. Fighting often escalates during the dry season, when government forces launch offensives, occasionally driving hundreds of Karen civilians to seek refuge over the Thai border.