– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community
PHUKET: Acting under the martial law declared early Tuesday morning, joint teams of military and police officers launched raids at three locations to hunt for war weapons thought to have been readied for possible outbreaks of violence.
The first raid was launched at 11.30pm on Tuesday in Lop Buri’s Nong Muang district. During the raid, Chaowat Thongphuek, 54, was arrested for possessing a large number of weapons including nine home-made bombs and a TNT stick along with an AK-47 assault rifle and a large amount of ammunition.
Chaowat, a former paramilitary ranger, reportedly confessed to acquiring the weapons and having been hired by a couple – whom he identified as Nanthana and Chatcharn – to make bombs to be used in relation to political violence in the capital.
The explosives discovered were three metal pipe bombs, five plastic pipe bombs and one bomb contained in a metal box. The other items included an anti-personnel Claymore mine, 11 sets of detonators and lots of ammunition for different kinds of other weapons.
The second raid was conducted yesterday in an apartment in Samut Sakhon’s Krathum Baen district, where the police-military team arrested a female tenant for possessing a large cache of weapons.
The woman, JanthanaWarakornsakulkij, admitted to owning the weapons but said the two membership cards for the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship found in her room were not hers, but had been issued to a friend. She later said the weapons were meant to be used for self-defence.
Janthana and her roommate had not been charged with any specific offence as of press time. However, the woman and her cache of weapons were later taken to the Army Club to meet Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, before a press conference about her arrest was arranged.
The weapons found in her room included five assault rifles, an M79 grenade launcher, a large amount of ammunition, three hand grenades, explosives contained in 120 bottles, eight home-made bombs, a pistol, three cameras, a bullet-proof vest, and nails and metal wires meant as shrapnel for the home-made bombs.
The third raid was at a home in Soi Rachadaphisek 32 in Bangkok.
Phaholyothin police said they had received a phone call from an unnamed owner of the house, saying his property had been broken into. Later when they searched the house they found 140 rounds for an M16 assault rifle and two dummy hand grenades.
A series of raids had been conducted before the martial law was announced on Tuesday, including one at a Nakhon Nayok resort this week where a large number of assault rifles were found, though only two were retrieved openly by police.
— Phuket Gazette Editors