Mountain mayhem: Chaowalit manhunt disrupts peace, prompting authorities to rethink tactics

Photo: KhaoSod

The continued manhunt of the fugitive Chaowalit Thongduang on the Banthat Mountain Range in the provinces of Phatthalung, Trang, and Satun is affecting residents and wildlife, with authorities considering a change in strategy. The hunt for Chaowalit, also known as Sia Paeng, began on October 22 following his escape from hospital custody in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

The search operations, involving officers from Police Regions 8 and 9 along with the Thai Border Police Unit 54, have been focused around the hillside village of Ban Nai Tra in Trang’s Palian district. However, the ongoing operations have led to disruptions in the lives of residents, particularly in the nearby village of Tamoht, where regular income activities have been affected.

The daily presence of helicopters and security forces has compelled villagers to refrain from their traditional livelihood activities near the mountainous areas and the reservoir. The noise from the operations has also impacted the local wildlife, forcing some species to migrate from their usual habitats. As a consequence, certain bird species have been observed taking refuge in villages located at the foothills of the Banthat Mountain Range.

The disturbance caused by the relentless manhunt for Chaowalit has led to mounting dissatisfaction among residents, prompting high-ranking police officers and the Phatthalung Provincial Police to plan a meeting to reassess the situation. The discussion will focus on whether to continue the operations, limit the forces to key lookout points, or cease the operations altogether.

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Despite the challenges, the Thai Border Police Unit 54 and other officers continue their relentless pursuit of the Banthat Mountain Range, adjusting their forces stationed at various points on the mountainside. As the chase enters its 13th day, there is still no sign of Chaowalit, leading to speculation that the authorities may scale down the operations, leaving only the local Phatthalung Provincial Police and some members of Unit 54 in the area.

The adverse effects of the prolonged Chaowalit manhunt necessitate a careful evaluation of the situation, taking into account the impact on the local community and the environment. The outcome of the upcoming meeting will determine the future course of the operation, with the authorities weighing the need for public safety against the negative ramifications of the ongoing manhunt, reported KhaoSod.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.