Thai tourists after their release.

Tourists have been warned to stay away from the Myanmar border following the abduction of 37 of them yesterday.

The group, who crossed the border at Payathonzu in Karen State, were reportedly captured by the military group in apparent retaliation for Thai authorities arresting underage sex workers under the control of the Karen group.

All 37 tourists were later released following negotiations involving Thai police officers , the Royal Thai army and local authorities.

However, officials warned Thais to stay out of the Payathonzu area, because of the posibility of another abduction.

 The army confirmed that |the situation at the Thai-Myanmar border was back to normal now that the Thai tourists were safe and the border was open.

The incident was caused by the Karen group wanting to know why the Thai authorities had arrested their people. However, following lengthy negotiations, they agreed to free all Thai tourists and let them cross the border safely back to Thailand.

An official source said that the BGF had been angered with Thai authorities over a sting operation to arrest underage sex workers from Myanmar.

On Wednesday, the Thai police anti-human trafficking division arrested six prostitutes aged between 16 and 17 years, as well as two agents who brought the girls from Payathonzu to Thailand.

The source also warned that the BGF was still angry over the operation and might seize Thais again, so tourists should avoid travelling to Payathonzu .

The BGF is a Karen army group loyal to the Myanmar government. They now control several key areas along the border between Thailand and Karen State and are engaged in fighting other Karen groups opposed to the Myanmar government.

(Source:The Nation, Thailand)

By Juninho