PM wants swift purge of illegal guns
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PM wants swift purge of illegal guns

Cop held for theft of 159 police weapons

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered police to crack down on illegal firearms within three months and to strictly safeguard their weapon storage facilities in the wake of the theft of more than 150 guns by a police officer.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisulee Taisaranakul said Gen Prayut has been monitoring efforts to tackle the problem of illegal firearms and instructed all police stations to step up weapons checks and ensure firearms are well guarded.

He also called for severe punishment for those who steal them.

"The prime minister stressed that the issue must be dealt with urgently. On Oct 18, the cabinet approved measures for related agencies to tighten controls on the use of firearms to prevent them from being used against the public.

"Related agencies must make sure the measures produce tangible results within three months. They were also told to prevent any abuse of state property," Ms Traisulee said.

According to police, 50 of 159 guns stolen from Pak Kret police station have been recovered, most returned anonymously, since a police officer was arrested and charged with the thefts.

Pol Maj Gen Phananchai Chuenjaitham, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 1, said yesterday that checks had confirmed a total of 159 firearms were stolen from the police station.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chaowalit Phumkhachorn was arrested on Thursday afternoon at a hotel in Nong Khai province in connection with the theft. He was reportedly preparing to flee into Laos.

Earlier reports said he was accused of stealing about 90 guns from Pak Kret station, where he was based.

The suspect was taken back to Pak Kret station, where he was being detained. Investigators took him to the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Region 1 in Saraburi yesterday to seek a 12-day detention order for him.

Pol Maj Gen Phaisarn Wongwatcharamongkol, Nonthaburi police chief, said 50 of the missing guns were recovered by police. He said nine were found in a plastic bag left near Pak Kret police station.

On Thursday night, a bag with 27 guns was left anonymously outside the Police Club in Bangkok's Lak Si district. A man had phoned police and said he feared prosecution for having stolen guns in his possession.

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