CHACHOENGSAO - Police are hunting a teenager who allegedly threw a grenade into Wat Ampawan which killed four people and wounded five others in Sanamchai Khet district early Sunday.
The suspect has a long criminal history, having been jailed 20 times, said Pol Lt Gen Jitti Rodbangyang, chief of the Provincial Police Region 2.
Pol Capt Thanes Srisongkhram, an investigator at Sanamchai Khet police station, said the attack occurred about 1am inside the temple on Sanamchai Khet-Tha Takiap road in tambon Lat Krathing.
Saneh Thamkham, 50, an assistant village chief, told police that the temple was holding a fair to celebrate a newly-built chapel.
On Saturday night, the fair, which featured local folk dances, attracted two groups of youths who as the evening progressed had an altercation.
One group comprised about 10 teens who live in the district, and the other about four teenagers from Tha Takiab district.
Pol Lt Gen Jitti, who led an inspection of the scene, said an initial investigation confirmed the attack was motivated by a feud between two groups of teenagers.
Police said a fight started after the teens teased the Tha Takiab group about how its members should have their urine tested for drug abuse.
At about 1am the Tha Takiab group became enraged, with one of its members taking out an M26 grenade and hurling it at the rival group.
However, the grenade missed the target by about 10 metres and landed near a table of other revellers and exploded, killing four youths.
Three died on the spot and the other was pronounced dead at Sanamchai Khet Hospital. Five other people were wounded, four of them seriously.
Pol Lt Gen Jitti said police have the names of the grenade thrower and other suspects in the gang. Investigators have asked the court to approve warrants for their arrest.
The commissioner said checks found the grenade thrower had been jailed on charges connected to drug use and possession of firearms and explosives in Samut Prakan.
The suspect was recently charged with drug abuse and released on bail.