Police raids yield huge weapons haul

Police raids yield huge weapons haul

UDD guards linked to Samut Sakhon bust

Police seized a large amount of weapons in separate raids in Samut Sakhon, Bangkok and Lop Buri yesterday in a crackdown against illegal firearms launched a day after martial law was declared.

In the largest raid carried out by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) at midday yesterday, police said they detained a woman, Chanthana Warakornskulkij, 44, from Nakhon Ratchasima, and charged her with unauthorised possession of weapons after they discovered a huge arms cache in her rented house.

Police who entered the house in Samut Sakhon's Krathum Baen district said they found an AK-47 assault rifle and 777 rounds of ammunition along with an array of other firearms, grenades and bomb-making equipment.

Among the items were a telescope-mounted rifle with 38 rounds of ammunition, an M79 grenade launcher with nine 40mm grenades, an MP gun with 48 rounds, a carbine with 154 rounds, a pistol with nine .380 bullets, three grenades, eight homemade bombs, 120 bottles of gunpowder, steel screws, knives, cameras, lanterns, electric wires and bulletproof vests.

ID cards belonging to security guards of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) were also seized from the house.

Ms Chanthana told police she loved collecting weapons and they had been bought one after another over time, mostly from border areas in Tak and Ratchaburi provinces.

Pol Col Akkaradech Pimolsri, deputy CSD chief, who led yesterday's raid, said the operation was conducted on the military's request after a tip-off about an arms cache at the house.

Praiwal Khiuphukhieo, the owner of the rented building, said he was unaware his tenant had been storing illegal weapons there.

In the second raid, Phahon Yothin police in Bangkok searched a house on Soi Ratchadaphisek and found 140 rounds of ammunition for an M16 assault rifle and two dummy grenades normally used in military or police drills.

The owner of the house alerted police after discovering it had been broken into and valuables worth 200,000 baht had been stolen. He had not lived there for a long time.

Police said they found the bullets and the grenades inside the house's storage room which appeared to have been ransacked.

The weapons were handed over to the police's explosive ordnance disposal unit for further inspection.

A combined security force of soldiers and police also raided a house in Lop Buri yesterday and detained a former military ranger with a number of war weapons and explosives.

Chaowat Thongphueak, 54, who was arrested at his house in Nong Muang district late on Tuesday night, allegedly confessed to supplying the firearms, bullets, and explosives to two women who he identified only as Nanthana and Chatchaya.

The weapons seized included an AK rifle with ammunition, large quantities of bullets for various types of handguns and rifles, an anti-personnel mine, pipe bombs and explosives.

The raid was ordered by the Peace and Order Maintaining Command which received a tip-off that the house was being used to store weapons and explosives.

In Phitsanulok, a military squad from the 3rd Army detained Boonlert Ruangthim, a key UDD figure while he was travelling from Muang district to Bang Rakam district on Tuesday.

He was detained under an arrest warrant issued for him in connection with the murder of a Ramkhamhaeng University student.

The arrest was carried out just hours after the declaration of martial law early on Tuesday morning but was confirmed yesterday.

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