Weapons find sparks new unrest fears

Weapons find sparks new unrest fears

High alert for 1932 revolt anniversary

Soldiers display weapons and ammunition found at a home in Tak's Mae Sot district on Tuesday. The weapons are suspected to be part of a plot to stir up political unrest. POLICE PHOTO
Soldiers display weapons and ammunition found at a home in Tak's Mae Sot district on Tuesday. The weapons are suspected to be part of a plot to stir up political unrest. POLICE PHOTO

Police are on high alert after a cache of weapons and ammunition found on Tuesday in Tak's Mae Sot district were suspected of being part of a plot to stir up political unrest.

Citing intelligence information, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said it was likely the firearms were intended for use in a fresh round of political chaos and that police were expanding their investigation.

Two machine guns, four M16 rifles, three M79 grenade launchers, 13 AK assault rifles and 10 small rifles and ammunition were among items seized by troops and border patrol police in a joint raid on a house in tambon Mae Tao.

Two people were arrested and taken to the 4th Infantry Regiment's Task Force for questioning. Naresuan Task Force commander Maj Gen Ukrit Nutkhamhaeng and Border Patrol Police Region 3 chief Pol Maj Gen Noppol Chatiwong travelled to Tak to examine the firearms.

"We're still investigating the motive. But according to intelligence information, the weapons could be linked to political elements looking to engineer unrest," Pol Gen Chakthip said.

He said he has instructed police across the country, especially those in "high-risk provinces" to step up security for activities marking the 88th anniversary of the 1932 revolution today.

The revolution led by a group of military officers and civilians under the "Khana Ratsadon" banner culminated in the abolition of absolute monarchy in favour of a constitutional one.

The authorities believe about 300 government opponents will gather at the Skywalk in central Bangkok's Pathumwan district today to mark the event.

The gathering is expected to take place despite the emergency decree, declared to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, banning large crowds.

Deputy police spokesman, Pol Col Kissana Phattanacharoen, said it is believed the seized weapons were intended to create havoc and the discovery comes amid intelligence reports about suspicious activities being planned by a certain group of people.

He said police are investigating to determine what political connections the group has.

Pol Col Kissana also said security was being beefed up for today's activities to mark the 1932 revolution.

Measures include the setting up of checkpoints around venues where commemorative events are to take place.

He said police in 10 provinces, including Khon Kaen, Phrae, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai have been put on high alert regarding political activities today.

The police spokesman urged organisers of such events and their participants to heed the law and the emergency decree which is still in effect.

According to Pol Col Kissana, violators of the decree's ban on large gatherings are subject to a two-year jail term and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.


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