BANGKOK (AP) — Six drug smugglers were fatally shot in a gunbattle in northern Thailand when they were confronted by soldiers, the military said.
An army statement said the soldiers had received a tipoff about a drug smuggling route in the northern province of Chiang Mai. When they saw a group of men with backpacks hiking past their stakeout late Wednesday night, they ordered them to stop for an inspection but were met with gunfire.
It said six of the men were killed and two wounded in a 15-minute firefight. Soldiers seized 554,000 methamphetamine tablets, 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of opium, an AK-47 assault rifle and a short-barreled rifle, it said. Several suspects were believed to have escaped and were being pursued.
Northern Thailand is part of the infamous drug production area known as the Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. Long a major source of opium and its refined product, heroin, the area — especially Myanmar — now is also notorious for the production of methamphetamine.