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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"The hostages are all reported injured"
 real 56k

Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 12:00 GMT
Thai police kill jailbreakers
Police around the inmates' seized truck
The shootout followed a high-speed chase
Police in Thailand have shot dead nine Burmese jailbreakers and freed the three prison officials they had taken hostage.

The prisoners, who fled the Samut Sakorn prison near Bangkok on Wednesday in a hijacked pick-up truck, were trying to head back to Burma.


When we left the prison we thought we would not survive, so we talked about dying together

Deputy prison governor Sema Kumpanon
They were killed in a dramatic shootout with police, shown live on Thai television.

The shootout in the Kanchanaburi border area followed a 12-hour, high-speed chase involving hundreds of police commandos.

Balaclava-clad marksmen struck when the inmates had to get out of the truck to change a flat tyre on Thursday morning.


One hostage, prison governor Somwong Sirivecha, was seriously wounded while another suffered a minor stab wound.

Mr Somwong was taken to hospital by helicopter for a gunshot wound to his head.

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai praised the rescue mission, saying it restored confidence in Thailand after two other violent sieges involving Burmese nationals.

Fake pistols found

The BBC's South-east Asia correspondent, Simon Ingram, said that after a minute of intense gunfire, the marksmen moved in, apparently to kill the remaining convicts.

Their bodies were later seen lying on the road.

Hostage Sema Kumpanon, the prison's deputy governor, said he lay low during the hail of gunfire.

Relative of victim
Relatives of one of the hostages break down in grief
"After a few minutes, I opened the door and threw myself out of the car," he said.

Police said they found four pistols, two of them fake, one homemade bomb, some knives and container of a cooking gas inside the vehicle.

Only one of the 10 inmates survived while another hostage was also injured with a minor stab wound.

The bullet-ridden body of another prison official - who taught Buddhism to inmates - was also found in the jail after the prisoners had broken out.

Prison gates dismantled

The drama began when convicts took over the prison mid-morning on Wednesday.

Police at Samut Sakor prison
There was an eight hour stand-off
A tense eight-hour stand-off with negotiators ensued, during which one of the captives was paraded in front of the television cameras.

Seizing a truck and seven hostages, four of whom were later released, they dismantled the main prison gates and drove out of the compound.

The inmates were described as Burmese nationals accused of criminal offences such as drug trafficking and murder.

Burmese exiles have been involved in two hostage-taking incidents in Thailand recently.

Last October, the Burmese embassy was taken over by Burmese rebels, who eventually escaped.

In January, a separate group of rebels, who were later shot dead, took staff and patients hostage in a Ratchaburi hospital.

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See also:

23 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Picture gallery: Thai jailbreak
24 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Thai siege rebels win concessions
02 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Embassy gunmen flee
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