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Drug Gangsters Ambush Thai Police,

MAE HONG SON, Thailand, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Gangsters linked to the son of
former opium warlord Khun Sa ambushed a group of Thai narcotics police in
northern Thai jungles, killing three policemen and wounding six, officials
said on Thursday. 

``An informant told us that gangsters loyal to Khun Sa's son were responsible
for the attack on the Thai police,'' a police spokesman told reporters. 

The shoot-out took place late on Wednesday in the Golden Triangle region
after 40 policemen raided a heroin factory in the mountainous district of
Pangmapha, near Khun Sa's former stronghold in Burma's Shan State. 

One man at the factory was shot dead during the raid. 

After police destroyed the factory and seized evidence, more than 10
gangsters ambushed the police while the officers were trekking out of the
jungle, police said. 

They said the officers reported missing earlier in the day have been found --
one dead and two wounded. 

Narcotics officials based in Chiang Mai province told Reuters on Wednesday
that the United Wa State Army (UWSA) operated between 16 and 20 heroin
factories in Shan State near the Thai border. 

One official said two of Khun Sa's sons were now cooperating with the UWSA in
the heroin business. 

The UWSA is a former rebel group from Burma that struck a cease-fire with
Burma's military government in the early 1990s. A former rival to Khun Sa and
his men, it has controlled opium growing and heroin production in the Golden
Triangle since Khun Sa surrendered to Burmese troops in January, 1996. 

The unclear border demarcation has often caused disputes between Thailand and
Burma over whether the heroin factories raided by Thai narcotics police were
on Thai or Burmese soil. 

The heroin factory raided on Wednesday was in Thailand, about 200 metres from
the border. 

The Golden Triangle region, where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet, produces
about 70 percent of all heroin sold in the United States, the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Administration says. 

The Thai military launched a month-long campaign this week to destroy opium
fields in northern Thailand, vowing to eradicate about 80 percent of this
year's crop. ^REUTERS@ 

05:39 11-27-97