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Ammunition controversy

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Is it possible that the Thai army fired more than 100,000 bullets during last year's crackdown on the red-shirt protest? 

Soldiers push back protesters from Soi Rang Nam on Ratchaprarop Road in May 2010. CHANAT KATANYU

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Army under fire over bullets

Wassana Nanuam

The army has ordered all units to return unused bullets from last year's protests after it was revealed in parliament that 100,000 were fired, including about 2,500 sniper rounds.

Pol Lt Col Somchai Phetprasoet, a Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima and chairman of the House committee on military affairs, told the House that army units withdrew about 600,000 bullets from arsenals for the crackdown, including 3,000 7.62-mm bullets for SG-3000 sniper rifles.

They used more than 100,000 of them in their operations against red-shirt protesters.

The remarks set off alarm in the army, sources say. The army chief has asked all army units that took part in the crackdown to return the unused ammunition to the arsenals.

Ninety-two died after clashes between soldiers and red-shirt protesters in April and May last year.

Pol Lt Col Somchai made the claims during the no-confidence debate against the government last week.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha recently told all army units that were involved in the red-shirt crackdown from March 12 to May 19, 2010 that the residual ammunition needed to be accounted for.

An army source said Gen Prayuth and the army chief of staff, Gen Dapong Rattanasuwan, were alarmed that so many bullets were fired.

Pol Lt Col Somchai said that of the 3,000 sniper bullets taken out of armouries, only 480 were returned.

About 50,000 bullets for M1 rifles, which are used in ambush operations, were withdrawn from arsenals for the operations.

After the operations, 45,158 of them were returned.

According to Pol Lt Col Somchai, altogether 597,500 bullets were taken out of army arsenals and 479,577 returned.

That meant that altogether, 117,923 bullets were fired, he told the House.

After hearing the claims in parliament, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva asked the army to supply him with the details, the source said.

The army told the prime minister that the figures presented to the House applied at the time when units had yet to return any bullets.

The army chief has ordered all units to quickly return all ammunition to arsenals, so the army could work out the exact number of bullets fired during the crackdown on the red shirts.

The source added that the army earlier ordered all units to delay returning the ammunition because it did not want the figures to come to light.

The source said Pol Lt Col Somchai's information on the ammunition was accurate.

However, some figures might have changed because some units have since returned the residual bullets to army arsenals.

protester – someone who shows that they disagree with something by standing somewhere, shouting, carrying signs, etc  ผู้ต่อต้าน, ผู้ประท้วง
– a small, metal object that is shot from a gun  กระสุนปืน
– a group of people who work or live together, especially for a particular purpose หน่วย,กอง,กลุ่ม
– to let something become known เปิดเผย
– someone who shoots at people from a hidden place ผู้ลอบยิง
– a bullet or a shot that is fired from a weapon นัด(กระสุน) ชุดยิง
– to take something from a supply of something เบิก
arsenal – a building used to store guns and military equipment คลังแสงสรรพาวุธ
crackdown – strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
– a large gun with a long barrel that you hold against your shoulder to fire ปืนยาว, ปืนไรเฟิล
– a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers การปฏิบัติการ
– something said คำพูด
set off
–  to cause a situation or a series of events to happen, especially without intending to ก่อให้เกิด
– fear and anxiety that somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความกังวล  ความกลัว
– someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
– bullets, bombs, etc that can be fired from a weapon อาวุธยุทธภัณฑ์, ลูกกระสุน
– a brief fight between two or more people การปะทะกันสองฝ่าย
– saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
no-confidence debate
– censure debate; formally criticising a cabinet minister or the full cabinet in a parliamentary session after which members vote to support or reject the การอภิปรายไม่ไว้วางใจ
– remaining at the end of a process ซึ่งเหลืออยู่
account for
– to give an explanation for something that has happened อธิบาย, ให้เหตุผล
chief of staff
– the most senior officer in the army, navy, or air force  เสนาธิการ
– a place where weapons and armour are kept คลังอาวุธ
– to attack someone after hiding and waiting for them ซุ่มโจมตี (จากตำแหน่งที่ซ่อนอยู่)
– small facts or pieces of information relating to a situation รายละเอียด
– a number representing a particular amount, especially one given in official information ตัวเลข, จำนวนเลข
– precise เที่ยงตรง, ถูกต้อง,แม่นยำ
– to make something happen at a later time than originally planned or expected เลื่อน
come to light
– to be revealed; to make known  ถูกเปิดเผยออกมา
– correct, exact and without any mistakes ถูกต้อง, แม่นยำ

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