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Qatar PM says efforts ongoing to release Hamas hostages, including Thais

Qatar’s prime minister told Thailand’s visiting foreign minister Tuesday that efforts were ongoing to secure the release of hostages, including Thais, held by Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite their “complexity”.

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DOHA, QATAR — Qatar’s prime minister told Thailand’s visiting foreign minister Tuesday that efforts were ongoing to secure the release of hostages, including Thais, held by Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite their “complexity”.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani made the remarks as Thailand’s Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara began an urgent trip to Qatar and Egypt for talks on the fate of 22 Thais taken hostage by Hamas in its attack on Israel.

Israeli authorities say more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 230 hostages taken in the 7 October attack launched by the Palestinian militant group from the Gaza Strip.

In response, the Israeli military has pounded Gaza, where the Hamas-controlled health ministry says more than 8,300 have been killed — more than 3,000 of them children.

Of the more than 230 hostages Israel says are being held in Gaza, 22 are Thai nationals, the foreign ministry in Bangkok has said.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said Monday his government was working hard to get them home.

He dispatched the foreign minister to meet the Qatari prime minister in Doha on Tuesday, before talks with the Egyptian foreign minister on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohammed, who also serves as Qatar’s foreign minister, noted his country’s continued efforts to “mediate the release of prisoners, despite the complexity of these efforts”, during his meeting with Parnpree.

This was “due to the escalation of air strikes and the ground incursion of Israeli forces into the Gaza Strip,” the Qatari foreign ministry said.

It added that “the high number of civilian casualties calls for an immediate ceasefire”.

About 30,000 Thais had been working in Israel, many in the agricultural sector, when the conflict erupted.

At least 32 Thais have been killed in the conflict and 19 wounded, according to the ministry.

“We are more like victims of the war,” Srettha told reporters.

“We have been more affected because there are more workers from Thailand in Israel than from other countries.”

Srettha said the government would provide financial help for Thais wanting to return home from Israel.

“The reason why Thais won’t return to Thailand is because of money,” he said.

“We are providing financial aid of 50,000 baht ($1,400) per person, including those who already returned,” Srettha said.

— AFP

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