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Thailand hunts people-smugglers

Thai police officials measure a shallow grave in Padang Besar, Songkhla province, which they believe is related to a human trafficking network. AP Photo/Sumeth Panpetch

Thai police officials measure a shallow grave in Padang Besar, Songkhla province, which they believe is related to a human trafficking network. AP Photo/Sumeth Panpetch

Bangkok [AFP]

Thai authorities on Thursday issued ten more arrest warrants against people suspected of human trafficking, as part of a blitz on camps used by people-smugglers sparked by the discovery of dozens of migrant remains.

National police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said officers were working to clear all camps within ten days following an order by the prime minister, but did not provide details of how many sites he believes are located across southern Thailand.

‘I will not allow these kind of camps to exist in Thailand,’ he told reporters in Bangkok.

Authorities have been at pains to show the country is serious about tackling people-smuggling after years of accusations that they turn a blind eye to – and are even complicit in – the trade.

More than 50 police officers, including senior officials, have been transferred from their posts since 26 bodies were exhumed from a mass grave over the weekend, near the town of Padang Besar in southern Songkhla province.

A further six bodies were found Wednesday near the same remote jungle hillside which is a few hundred yards from the Malaysia border.

All are believed to be from Myanmar or Bangladesh.

Rights groups say people traffickers are likely to switch tactics as the crackdown bites, taking large groups of migrants to Malaysia or abandoning their camps.


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