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Thailand works to release nationals taken hostage during Israel-Hamas conflict

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BANGKOK: Thailand is working with Jordan, Egypt and Malaysia to secure the release of its citizens taken hostage during unrest in Israel, as over 1,000 Thai migrant workers caught in the conflict look to return home, a deputy foreign minister said on Monday (Oct 9).

A dozen Thai nationals were killed, nine wounded and 11 more kidnapped, Thailand’s government said, when Hamas militants burst across the fence from Gaza on a rampage that killed at least 700 Israelis.

Dozens of people were captured and taken back as hostages to Gaza, a small coastal territory ruled by Hamas.

Some Thai workers were huddling in bunkers in southern Israel, awaiting rescue.

“We are coordinating with countries that have links to the country that have taken our nationals hostage to negotiate for their release,” Jakkapong Sangmanee, told a press briefing.

Negotiations towards securing the release of the Thai hostages have been “very positive”, Jakkapong said, without elaborating.

About 1,400 Thais have signed up to be evacuated, he said, adding the first group to return home would be those injured.

About 30,000 Thai nationals work in Israel, making up one of the largest migrant worker groups in the country, where fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen is still ongoing in several locations.

More than 400 people have been killed in Gaza after retaliatory Israeli air strikes hit housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque and homes of Hamas officials.

Thailand’s air force has two aircraft on standby for evacuation flights, along with medics, and the country’s national carrier may also be pressed into service, government officials said.

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