Six Thais nabbed for trespassing Laotian border

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UBON RATCHATHANI, Oct 10 – Six local men from this northeastern Thai province are in custody in neighbouring Laos where they have been held since the weekend on charges of trespassing, according to police.

The seventh member of the group was not captured by Lao border authorities in the Phanom Dong Rak mountain range which divides Thailand and the Lao PDR here.

Thai provincial police, army and civil officials, are meeting with the Lao authorities for the release of the six Thais apprehended while searching for forest products on a hill.

Somjai Buahom, chief of Nong Bua Patana village near the border, informed police that the seven men entered the forest near Phanom Dong Rak mountain on Saturday and camped in the woods some 500 metres from the border.

About 10 Laotian soldiers arrested them on Sunday morning and charged them with trespassing. The six Thais, aged 20 to 48, have been held in Laos since Sunday.

The Lao authorities demanded fines of US$1,000 or Bt30,000 each.

Saeng Chanacharn, 31, who eluded arrest, said the group walked on the mountain from Baan None Soong to find forest materials and bamboo to make furniture.

The villager said he heard gunshots Sunday morning when he was about 100 metres from the group. He saw Lao soldiers walking downhill with his group heading for Kusuma, a town in Laos. He insisted that the area where his companions were when arrested was within Thailand.