Army-police rift widens

national January 21, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Navy commander threatens to sue over 'mistaken identity'

RiftS between the police and the military appeared to be widening yesterday, as the Army commander in chief asked the national police chief to speed up investigation into recent attacks and a senior naval commander threatened to sue the police over allegations that a naval officer was behind the Sunday grenade attack. 
Police also failed in their earlier push for an emergency decree to be issued to deal with the growing protest movement, with military commanders saying they saw no need for the decree. 
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, said yesterday that her government was considering whether to impose the decree, while caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchai-kul, who is in charge of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), said the law would be invoked if violence continued.
Army commander in chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, however, said yesterday that he had telephoned national police chief Pol General Adul Sangsingkaew and asked him to ensure that the “society gets clear facts” about the incidents. He has also said the assailants must face legal action and punishment. 
Prayuth, in response to criticism that the military has been passive about dealing with the political conflict, said it had already done a lot. He also said the armed forces were not involved in any conflicts with any groups of people. 
Meanwhile, Naval Special Warfare commander Rear Admiral Winai Klom-in yesterday threatened to file a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police if it can be established that the police caused misunderstanding via social media that one of his subordinates had flung a grenade at Victory Monument. 
Winai said he believed the police were aware that the distribution of false information – by comparing a Naval Special Warfare Command officer’s picture with that of the suspect online – had affected his command. 
“The way the police did it could be seen as an attempt to discredit our agency,” Winai said, adding that the officer whose face was linked with that of the bomb suspect was on a mission to fight against drug trafficking. 
The police yesterday issued a statement confirming that the Navy officer in question was not the one who lobbed a grenade at the Victory Monument protest site. Pol General Ek Angsananont, deputy national police chief, also denied that police had distributed the naval officer’s photograph along with the arrest warrant for the bomb suspect.
Checkpoints, jointly manned by police and soldiers, have been set up as part of increased security after a series of attacks targeting protesters and their leaders.
National police chief Adul Sangsingkaew has ordered the setting up of checkpoints and day patrols, CAPO deputy spokesman Pol Maj-General Anucha Romayanant said.
Anucha said the checkpoints would focus on foiling attempts to smuggle weapons into protest areas, adding that the authorities were also working with protest leaders to boost security measures. 
Adul also dismissed reports of a conflict between police and the military officers involved in the anti-government rally, which has continued for over two months. 
Since December 26, four people have been killed and more than 260 injured in several attacks by unknown assailants, with grenade attacks on Friday and Sunday.
Metropolitan Police officer Pol Colonel Choosak Techarakpong inspected the Victory Monument protest site – which has been targeted several times – with People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) guards to help set up checkpoints. Choosak said uniformed police officers would be sent to maintain security at the protest site and that four checkpoints would be set up around the venue. 
He added that up to 40 police would man each checkpoint and as many as 20 would patrol the rally site during the day. 

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