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Anti-mine protest leader shot dead

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Anti-mine protest leader shot dead
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The leader of protests against a barite mining operation was shot dead in Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Nopphitam district on Sunday night, police said.

Pithan Thongpanang, 45, was shot two times – once in the body and once in the head – in Tambon Krung Ching, Police General Alonkorn Simawut said.

Alonkorn said the motive for the shooting was not yet known but he suspected the attack stemmed from either the protest over a mining operation in Tambon Krung Ching or a personal conflict.

He said no one witnessed the shooting and heavy rain would have washed away any evidence.

A relative of Pithan said the victim was travelling from his home to meet other residents affected by the mine when he was gunned down.

Told to make way for talks

Pithan had been told by a government agency to suspend the protest so negotiations could take place, the relative said.

He had spoken with a representative from the Lawyers Council of Thailand to join a negotiation meeting with the agency on December 9.

In January, the Lawyers Council of Thailand and Tambon Krung Ching residents in Nopphitam district sued state agencies at Nakhon Si Thammarat Administrative Court in an attempt to scrap a barite mine concession.

The 55-strong group feared mining activities would affect five villages.

Defendants included the provincial industry office, the Department of Primary Industries and Mines director-general, the provincial governor, the provincial health office, the Tambon Krung Ching Administrative Organisation president and the Pollution Control Department.

Besides requesting the issuance of an injunction to suspend all mining, the plaintiffs asked the court to cancel the concession the agencies had granted to a company to mine a 523-rai plot.

They urged the Pollution Control Department to rehabilitate the environment, especially water sources in the affected villages.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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