October 2, 2014 / 10:49 AM / 3 years ago

Myanmar worker admits to British murders in Thailand: police

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Myanmar man has confessed to the murder of two British tourists in Thailand, police said on Thursday, after pressure to solve a case that the government fears will damage Thailand’s tourist industry.

Pictures of killed British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge and a message of support to their friends and families are displayed during special prayers at Koh Tao island September 18, 2014. REUTERS/Sitthipong Charoenjai

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on Sept. 15 with severe head wounds near where they were staying on the southern island of Koh Tao, known for its coral reefs and diving.

The island has a large community of migrant workers from neighboring Myanmar, also know as Burma.

“The investigation has advanced considerably,” deputy national police chief Lieutenant General Jaktip Chaijinda told Reuters.

“Three Burmese workers were detained and we took their DNA for testing. During the investigation one of them admitted to killing the two foreigners,” he said.

Thai authorities have warned that the killings would scare off tourists and government leaders have been urging police to solve the case quickly.

The tourist industry accounts for 10 percent of Thailand’s economy and it has yet to recover from a slump in visitors during months of sometimes bloody protests on the streets of Bangkok that preceded a military coup in May.

Jaktip said the man who had confessed was being detained but had not been arrested.

“We still have to wait for DNA tests results which we expect to have in 14 hours from now in order to confirm this,” he said.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel

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