Saturday, October 2, 1999 Published at 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Embassy gunmen flee
Some freed hostages showed support for their captors' cause
Gunmen who stormed the Burmese embassy in Bangkok have fled after being airlifted out.
A helicopter then took them to the Burmese border and they reportedly disappeared into an area of Burma where armed ethnic minority groups are based, many hostile to the military government in Rangoon.
Back in the Thai capital, Mr Paribatra said he was not sure which Burmese opposition group the gunmen were allied to.
"We didn't talk much because it was rather tense in the helicopter," he said.
"With guns pointing at our heads, no Thai officials were in the mood or had the nerve to ask about their affiliation."
They said they were demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma and for dialogue between the military government and opposition groups.
All the hostages are reported to be shaken but unharmed. One man said that being released was like dying and being reborn.
Expressions of sympathy
Their hostages included 51 Burmese nationals, as well as a number of foreigners who are thought to have been at the embassy applying for visas to visit Burma.
The armed group seized control of the embassy at about 1100am local time (0400GMT) on Friday.
Dozens of sharpshooters and elite anti-terrorist police units surrounded the embassy during the tense 24-hour long siege.
At one point the gunmen threatened to start shooting their captives - one every half hour - if their demands were not met.
The gunmen said they were willing to die in action.
Shortly before the gunmen left the embassy a series of gunshots were heard from within the compound but there are no reports of any casualties.
'Act of terrorism'
The group were understood to be armed with AK-47s, hand grenades and grenade launchers.
The Burmese Government called the attack "a pure act of terrorism" and in Washington the State Department, which has been critical of the Burmese military regime, also condemned what it called "a terrorist attack".
However correspondents say the Thai Government has been keen to avoid labelling the gunmen as terrorists and says the gunmen were just student activists asking for democracy in their homeland.
The All Burma Students Democratic Front - which represents Burmese students in exile - says it has no connection with the hostage takers and does not support violence in the pursuit of bringing democracy to Burma.
There are hundreds of democracy and human rights activists, including exiled students, working in Thailand to lobby for greater democracy in Burma.
The Thai Government says the incident will not affect its treatment of foreign nationals and students will continue to be free to express their political views.
Students and ethnic groups regularly demonstrate in front of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, but their demonstrations are always peaceful.
In 1990 the opposition National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory in national elections, but the military regime has refused to relinquish power and in subsequent years has imprisoned thousands of democracy activists.