PHUKET TOWN: A horrified group of Western tourists watched helplessly as their tuk-tuk driver was shot dead by a hit-man in the road outside The Metropole hotel in Phuket Town on Saturday night. Prasit Petchkong, 56, from Phattalung province, had just picked up the group when two men on a black Honda Dream motorcycle with no license plates stopped nearby. The passenger dismounted, walked over to the tuk-tuk, pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his waistband, and shot Prasit at point-blank range. Witnesses said the murderer then strolled back to the motorcycle calmly, as if nothing had happened. Prasit was rushed to Wachira Hospital but died soon after. The tourists in the tuk-tuk left the scene immediately after the killing. Pol Col Chalit Thintanee, superintendent of Phuket Town Police Station, told the Gazette this morning that inquiries among Prasit’s relatives suggest he may have been murdered as a result of a dispute with a neighbor when he was living in Krabi a couple of months ago. According to the relatives, the neighbor had burned undergrowth on his land, but the fire had spread to Prasit’s property. Following a court ruling, the neighbor was ordered to pay Prasit 50,000 baht in compensation, but had failed to do so. Prasit’s efforts to collect the money culminated in a fist-fight with his neighbor. He then ran away from Krabi to stay with relatives and found work as a tuk-tuk- driver here. Police are continuing their investigation.
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