Tourist killing sparks gun crackdown
- Published: 3/01/2013 at 09:53 PM
- Online news:
Surat Thani governor Chatpong Chatphut on Thursday vowed to implement more restrictive firearms control measures and will announce the province’s tourist spots as gun-free zones within a year, following the fatal shooting of a British tourist on Koh Phangan.
Mr Chatpong said after the shooting he had ordered police and provincial officers to carry out more stringent control measures in order to prevent the possession and carrying of all types of weapons in tourist places, including Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, the province’s two main attractions.
He said authorities will gradually stop renewing gun licences for gun owners and eventually licences will be phased out altogether.
“All tourist places will be declared free-gun zones in one year,” Mr Chatpong said.
“Officers from a border patrol police unit and village defence volunteers will be deployed to help the work of Koh Phangan police station which has only 40 men.”
The governor was speaking after meeting with senior officials from security and administrative agencies including Surat Thani provincial police chief Kiattipong Khaosum-ang to discuss safety measures for tourists.
Stephen Ashton, 23, was dancing with his friends and several hundred other tourists in the New Year countdown party at Zoom Bar on Haad Rin when he was shot with a home-made gun during a fight between two rival groups of Thai men.
Police arrested Ekkapan Kaewkla, 26, who was alleged to be the shooter, on Tuesday. Mr Ekkapan allegedly confessed the following day that he unintentionally shot the British tourist while aiming his gun at his rivals.
During interrogation, Mr Ekkaphan told police he had bought the gun used in the killing from an illegal gun manufacturer on Surat Thani’s mainland. As a result, Mr Chatpong said he had asked Pol Maj Gen Kiattipong to immediately crack down on the illegal arms racket in the province.
Provincial authorities would also draw up new regulations to tighten controls on operators of rental cars, motorcycles and jet skis at tourist venues. Under the new rules, the operators will be required to carry insurance and are not allowed to ask for compensation for damage to their assets by customers. Violators will be charged with extortion. The quality of their services and prices will also be controlled.
Any government officials found to be involved in illegal activities will be severely punished, Mr Chatpong said.
About the author
- Writer: Supapong Chaolan