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Former Navy Seals 'not plot to snatch PM', freed by police

Rayong police arrested and briefly detained five men they said were Navy special operations personnel, who had stayed at a local hotel for suspicious reasons.

Navy spokesman Rear Admiral Kan Deeubol said yesterday that three of the men had quit as Thai Navy Seals and two others were civilians. He denied that the five had been on a mission to snatch caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to the funeral of a policeman on Sunday, as some have speculated.

Navy commander Admiral Narong Pipatanasai had been told of the arrests and the allegation, and had ordered an investigation into the matter, the spokesman said. He said it was unlikely the five men had anything to do with an attack on anti-government protesters at a rally in Khao Saming in nearby Trat on Saturday night, which saw two children killed and many people wounded.

The three former navy seals worked at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Kan said, contrary to news reports that they worked at the Port Authority of Thailand.

The chief of the Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Admiral Winai Klom-In, said the matter was not linked with political stability.

A team of Rayong special police raided a restaurant in the hotel at 3.30pm on Monday and arrested the five men, who were in possession of seven handguns.

The men said they had nothing to do with naval service currently. They were interviewed briefly by police and released without facing any charge.

Police sources said the five men had been hired as bodyguards of an influential man identified as "Boy". The arrests occurred after the brother of an influential local politician, who owns a local pub, notified police of "Boy's" recent visit to the pub without paying a cover charge. The officers arrested Boy also but news of his arrest and the five former navy personnel had been not made public.

The five men were escorted away by military officers toward Muang Rayong, after the police questioned them. Muang Rayong police chief Pol Colonel Sukitti Sawaikiat said police documents showed no record of the five being detained, but only the arrest of "Boy", who was in possession of a pistol and ammunition.


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