Bomb lobbed at home of official behind crackdown
Thap Lan National Park also wrestling with major forest encroachment issues
A hand grenade was hurled at the residence of an assistant to the director of Thap Lan National Park early yesterday, in what could be an attempt to warn officials off strictly cracking down on a rosewood-logging and smuggling gang operating in Prachin Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces.
After the report of the explosion, filed at 3.30am by Sangwal Saengsanit, Wang Khon Daeng police inspected his one-storey home within the civil servants' living quarters behind the park office in Prachin Buri's Na Di district.
The explosion, which created a crater 40 centimetres wide and 20cm deep, shattered the house's front windows and partially damaged Sangwal's sedan.
He said he had just returned from a park patrol at 3am when he heard a loud explosion outside his house. He alerted security guards and then quickly informed the police about it.
Saying that he has no other conflicts, Sangwal suspects the attack stemmed from his office's crackdown on a rosewood-logging gang and the fact that he had just ordered the transfer of some officials after suspected links to the gang.
However, a source reported that besides the crackdown on the logging and smuggling gang in an air and land patrol operation assisted by community and police participation, which resulted in a high arrest rate in recent months, the park also had another issue -the encroachment of resorts and farmland into the forest.
There have been 434 cases of such encroachment. The natural resources and environment minister recently visited Bu Phram sub-district, in Na Di district, and ordered the demolition of those resorts and houses about which the court had issued final rulings.
In related news, Nakhon Ratchasima's Muang district police yesterday announced the arrest this week of two rosewood-logging suspects, who were found in possession of three 2-metre-long pieces of timber, which had been illegally cut and smuggled out of Thap Lan National Park.
Alleged smuggler Suthep Charoensuk, 56, was arrested on Tuesday night at a checkpoint in Panao sub-district after police found his sedan had been modified to have a secret compartment for hiding and transporting the logs.
Police subsequently nabbed his suspected accomplice, Paand Sawong Sangkadklang, 60, in Non Sung district. He was found to be in possession of two chainsaws.
In a separate incident in Bueng Kan's Muang district, a Mekong River patrol unit yesterday intercepted an illegal shipment of 33 pieces of Siamese rosewood and seized a long-tailed boat in Chaiporn sub-district. However, the two people aboard the boat managed to escape by swimming away.