Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday ordered local police to go after those who shot dead a forest protection officer at Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary in Lop Buri's Lam Sonthi district.
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said the prime minister ordered police to bring to justice those who shot dead Khuan Chaiprasert, chief of forest protection officers at the wildlife sanctuary, as quickly as possible.
Khuan, 36, along with his two subordinates were patrolling the forest on Sunday when they came under fire from unidentified gunmen believed to poachers. There were no reports on whether the two junior officers were hurt.
The gunmen managed to escape.
The following day, Lam Sonthi police were informed of the incident and immediately rushed to the scene to collect evidence and interview witnesses who might have information on the crime, deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said on Tuesday.
Ms Narumon said the prime minister was deeply saddened by the death of the forest protection officer, praising him for his sacrifices to protect nature.
Gen Prayut also delivered his condolences to the family of the deceased and instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to help take care of them, said Ms Narumon.
The Facebook page of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation also posted condolences from Wasan Klomchinda, chief of Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary, who likewise commended the bravery of the slain officer.
The sanctuary spans over 155 square kilometres and is surrounded by mountain ranges in tambon Lam Sonthi and Kut Ta Phet.
The sanctuary houses many protected animals including fishing cats, leopards, pangolins, civet, serows, slow lorises and paradoxurus, which may attract poachers.