The Thai authorities have arrested nine red shirts after seizing series of military weapons from nine different locations in central and northeastern Thailand, claiming the weapons were intended to be used for the junta leader assassination plot.
On 18 March 2017, a combined force of police officers and soldiers searched a house in Pathum Thani province belonging to Teerachai Utarawichian, an anti-establishment red shirt linked to Wuthipong Kachathamkun, aka Kotee, a fugitive prominent hardcore red-shirt leader.
According to Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, Chief of the Royal Thai Police, the authorities confiscated series of military weapons, such as M16, M79, rifles, and ammunitions, adding that some of the weapons were stolen from soldiers during the April-May 2010 political violence.
After arresting Teerachai, on the same day the authorities arrested eight more people from different locations in central and northeastern Thailand after searching their premises, seizing some more weapons from some of the eight.
The eight are: Pratuang Onlamun, Palida Ruangsuwan, Thanachot Wongchanchompoo, Suriyasak Chaipitakkun, Bunsong Chotchapradit, Wanchaichana Krutchaiyan, Udomchai Noppasawas, and Aeamon Watkaew. They are all allegedly linked to Wuthipong.
The police chief said the weapons were prepared for a plot to assassinate Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and to be used against the authorities deployed to tighten control around at Dhammakaya Temple in Pathum Thani.
In response, Wuthipong, a former red shirt radio host who fled the country since 2014, rebuked the authorities’ claim, saying that the weapons did not belong to him and the operation was ‘framed’ by the authorities to portray red shirts are violent armed groups.
He added that he has been out of the country for years and have no motive to engage in the alleged assassination plot or create chaos around Dhammakaya Temple, adding that he fears for safety for the nine who are now under the military custody.
Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd, Spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office, told media that the operation is not a setup, adding that the authorities will deal with the matter swiftly as it is a major threat to national security.