Thailand says Myanmar has apologized for violating airspace

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand said on Friday that neighboring Myanmar issued an apology after one of its fighter jets flew into Thailand…

BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand said on Friday that neighboring Myanmar issued an apology after one of its fighter jets entered Thai airspace in a bombing raid along the border, forcing authorities to evacuate hundreds of schoolchildren and air force jets into the area bring to.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said Thailand does not want to escalate the incident that took place over Phop Phra district in Thailand’s Tak province on Thursday. Local authorities evacuated villages and schools in the area. Teachers at the Wale School escorted over 200 elementary and middle school students from their classrooms to fortified buildings on school grounds for safety.

Video obtained by The Associated Press shows a MiG-29 circling in Thai airspace over villages and schools before firing at the Myanmar side. Myanmar’s military is fighting ethnic Karen guerrillas on its side of the border with Thailand.

“The military attaches have spoken to each other and apologized, and our foreign ministries have spoken to each other. This may seem like a serious incident, but it is up to us whether we want to escalate this. Currently, the two sides are enjoying a good relationship and can talk,” Prayuth told reporters in a public appearance.

He added: “The most important thing is that we are able to defend our sovereignty. We must also plan for strength and modernity (of our defenses) for the future. That’s not a big problem.”

The Thai Air Force deployed two US-made F-16 fighter jets to the area where the Mig-29 had flown. Thai military authorities said the Myanmar jet was providing air support to a ground military operation in Myanmar, which was taking place just a kilometer from the border. Thailand said more than 500 people crossed over to the Thai side during the incident.

Fighting between Myanmar government forces and ethnic guerrillas, many of whom live in border areas, has been going on for decades but has intensified since the military took power from a democratically elected government in February last year. The fighting has sent waves of refugees from Myanmar to Thailand. They will then be sent back when the fighting subsides.

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