PHUKET: The Governor of Phuket and a number of officials, including senior police and navy officers, were detained for nearly six hours today by an angry mob demanding justice over the killing of a 16-year-old boy last night. The mob also blocked a main road, trapping a number of tourists inside the Cape Panwa and Panwaburi resorts. Commodore Preecharn Jamjaroen, deputy director of civilian affairs at the navy base, said the situation arose after a dispute on Monday between five sailors from the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet base and a group of local teenagers. The sailors were driving in a truck when one of the teenagers, Madat Hasap, 16, cut in front of them on his motorcycle. During the ensuing quarrel, Madat allegedly threatened to kill any sailor seen outside the base. The boy was shot with an M16 automatic rifle last night, receiving a fatal head wound. Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi was drawn into the conflict after a mob of 200 villagers, carrying the body of the boy and demanding that his killer be handed over to them, threatened to invade the naval base. Navy personnel armed with automatic rifles blocked the gates, warning that they would open fire on anyone trying to enter the base. Ignoring the warnings, the villagers marched into the compound and laid the boy’s body at the door of the main building. When Gov Pongpayome arrived at 10 am, the villagers demanded that the alleged killer be handed over to them. They threatened that if the killer was not delivered to them, they would burn down the base. The standoff was finally resolved after the five sailors involved in the initial conflict were arrested and the Governor agreed to go with representatives of the mob to observe the questioning of the five at the central Phuket Town police station. Commodore Preecharn said that one of the five, whom he named as Petty Officer First Class Wanchai Pongsawad, a financial clerk at the base, had confessed to shooting the boy. This is the third time in recent months that mobs have gathered in Phuket to demand justice. On September 14, a crowd of 50 people from the same area of Phuket besieged Phuket Town police station demanding action against officers who, they alleged, had beaten a local man, the driver of an illegal taxi, after stopping him for drunk-driving. The following day, nearly 100 villagers joined a heated protest at the Chalong Police Station to demand justice for a villager stabbed to death a week earlier in nearby Karon, in a karaoke bar owned by a police officer. In both cases the situation was resolved through mediation by high-ranking police officers.
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