Arrest warrants issued for Vegetarian Festival killers

PHUKET: Phuket Provincial Court issued arrest warrants for five members of the Wan Wai gang following the killing of a 15-year-old bystander during a shootout at the closing ceremony of the Vegetarian Festival early yesterday morning.

Thanakij Sawirum, 15, was shot dead behind the Lucky Complex, the abandoned building at the entrance to Saphan Hin, just after midnight (story here). Three 14-year-old bystanders were also injured by stray bullets as members of the Patong-based gang attempted to gun down members of its rival gang, Mac Tim Villa 3, which is based in Phuket Town.

“We’ve been able to establish that none of the victims were known to the two gangs prior to the shootout,” said Lt Col Somsak Thongkliang of the Phuket City Police. “Mr Thanakij and the other teens injured were just innocent bystanders who had come out for the Vegetarian Festival.”

Based on CCTV evidence, police were able to identify the gang members. After reviewing the gang’s criminal history, officers established a clear trend of Wan Wai’s thugs jumping on their motorbikes and cruising Phuket Town, especially during festivals.

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“Wan Wai and Mac Tim Villa 3 gang violence led to another death earlier this year. Some of the members of the Patong group were arrested for their involvement,” Col Somsak said.

“In this most recent incident, it appears the Wan Wai gang had a run-in with Mac Tim Villa 3 near the Saphan Hin Circle, about 100 meters away from the site of yesterday’s murder.”

Police declined to name who the arrest warrants were issued for, but expect to apprehend the suspects “soon”.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News
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