Embassy raiders flee, hostages unharmed
BANGKOK (AFP): The siege of the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok ended this afternoon almost as swiftly as it began yesterday, with the five gunmen being flown in a police helicopter to Ratchaburi Province, near the Thai-Myanmar border, where they are reported to have fled into the countryside. On landing, they released Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra and one other official. Sukhumbhand had offered himself in exchange for hostages held captive for over 24 hours at the embassy. The hostages – released shaken but unhurt – expressed relief, saying they felt they had been “reborn”. Officials quickly ushered them into waiting vans and drove them to a nearby hospital for medical checkups, and then away for questioning by police. “We are very, very happy,” said a man identified only as Prasert, a Thai national who acted as mediator between the Burmese student captors and the hostages. “It is as if we were dead and have been reborn. Everybody is safe,” he told reporters following the release of the last 23 of the 40 hostages held in the embassy. The five raiders, calling themselves the “Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors”, had threatened to begin killing the hostages if the helicopter was not provided.
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