Star mayor gunned down in Haad Yai

SONGKHLA: The mayor of Khlong Hae Town in Songkhla’s Haad Yai District was gunned down in his car on the evening of May 16.

Aphichat Sangkhachat, 39, was shot at around 10:30pm as he stopped at an ATM on Ratyindee Road in downtown Haad Yai City while on the way home from a funeral at Wat Khlong Ple. He was hit once in the chest.

Haad Yai, about 250 kilometers south of Phuket, is a major commercial and transport hub and gateway to Thailand’s Deep South region.

Rescue volunteers took Mr Aphichat to Bangkok Hospital Haad Yai, but he later died of his injury.

Suphawat Thapkhliow, Superintendent of Haad Yai Police, said that Mr Aphichat’s killers were driving a pickup truck.

“The perpetrators are likely to have followed the victim all the way from the temple. They were unable to get a good opportunity to shoot [Mr Aphichat] until he stopped to withdraw money,” Col Suphawat said.

A few days before the attack, Mr Aphichat had been warned by relatives that his life was in danger. The victim was taking a risk by traveling alone at night as he knew killers were just waiting for the opportunity to strike, Col Suphawat said.

At the scene police found one 5.56mn cartridge case of the kind fired by an M-16 assault rifle.

While serving as mayor of Khlong Hae, Mr Aphichat played an important role in the establishment of the Khlong Hae Floating Market.

The market, the only floating one in the South, is a popular attraction for Thai and Malaysian tourists.

Mr Aphichat had served as mayor for over two years. He was reportedly very popular among his constituents and was considered a rising star of local politics in Songkhla.

Commander of Songkhla Provincial Police Wirun Iamphaichit said that debt or a political dispute were the likely motives for the killing.

The murder came just one day after two young girls, aged 7 and 12, were found hanged in their back yard in Klong Hae in what police believe may have been a robbery or silencing killing related to a land dispute.

— Kom Chad Luek & MCOT

Phuket News

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