Army says 22 in custody after being found with weapons; says they had orders from red-shirt leaders to carry out attack in Khon Kaen
Twenty-one men and one woman, who were arrested over the past two days with a cache of weapons, have confessed that they were planning a terrorist attack in Khon Kaen on the orders of red-shirt hardliners, the military said yesterday.
Maj-General Thawat Plangsuk, Second Army Region deputy commander, said the authorities were further questioning the suspects and red-shirt leaders in Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima and Kalasin to find out if they were planning a coordinated attack across the northeastern region.
Acting on a tip-off, a joint team of civilian, police and military raided the Chonlapruek apartment at tambon Ban Ped in Khon Kaen’s Muang district. The officers found the suspects holding a meeting in two units. Ten people were arrested in room 406 and nine were arrested in room 407. Two people were arrested in room 411.
Authorities found explosives, three hand grenades, one smoke grenade, two boxes of 202 9mm bullets and 145 11mm bullets, two gas tanks, mobile phones, a spatha knife, bullet-proof vests, wallets, torches, Volunteer Ward Democratic National training documents, their scarfs and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship ID cards.
There were also photos of the suspects with important figures.
Thawat said that the suspects had been detained in a safe place and had confessed that they were planning to stage a coordinated attack in Khon Kaen, which would be “a model” for terrorist attacks.
Authorities are keeping a close eye on key red-shirt leaders in the northeastern provinces, including Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kalasin and Khon Kaen.
Army deputy spokesman Colonel Vinthai Suvaree said up till now 150 people were in the custody of the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council. Thirty people summoned to report had not yet turned themselves in.
He said they would be detained in no more than seven days, depending on their roles in relation to activities that disturbed peace and order. Those who faced arrest warrants since the start of the political rally would be prosecuted.
The council yesterday summoned an additional 35 people, including academics and red-shirt leaders, to report by 4pm yesterday or face two years in jail, a Bt40,000 fine or both.
Army deputy spokesman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said following the council’s meeting with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the council allowed the broadcast of free-to-air television stations as well as digital and satellite television stations.
It was allowed under the agreement that the operators would not broadcast distorted content that could instigate violence, Sirichan said.
She said the council’s order to suspend the broadcast of 14 satellite television stations and community radio that had faced bans earlier was still in force.
Vinthai said the council would initially refrain from resorting to drastic actions but hold negotiations and talks with anti-coup protesters.
He warned that normalcy had not yet returned to the country and the public needs to realise the significance of the council’s orders.