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Chiang Mai 11 ‘claim’ Siem Reap training

Posted by arnon_k On October - 12 - 2010

Cambodia denies DSI story of guerrilla camp

Eleven people arrested in a raid on a resort in Chiang Mai and suspected of planning acts of terror claim they and 28 other individuals underwent weapons training in Siem Reap, the Department of Special Investigation says.

The group were arrested on Oct 2 at Doi Ku Fah resort in Mae On subdistrict.

DSI investigator Phayao Thongsen said a plot to assassinate high-profile figures, including former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, was among the group’s alleged missions.

Pol Lt Col Phayao said investigators had evidence of phone calls made between the group in Chiang Mai and red shirt community radio operators in Cambodia.

The Cambodian government yesterday denied the group had received arms training from its soldiers.

“Our constitution does not allow anyone to do that sort of thing [on Cambodian soil]. Nobody is allowed to do any such stupid thing in Cambodia,” said Cambodian government spokesman Phay Siphan.

“So I think this accusation is a made-up story to blame Cambodia, and is also [part of the] campaign against the red shirts, using Cambodia as a springboard for Thai local politics.”

Pol Lt Col Phayao said the 11 suspects had provided investigators with useful information. They were being held without charge under the witness protection programme.

He alleged the group had confessed they joined the red shirt protests led by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and had witnessed clashes between protesters and government forces.

The investigator also alleged they were persuaded after the Bangkok protests by a group called Rak Chiang Mai 51, led by Kanyaphak Maneechak or “DJ Orm”, to join a faction planning to undergo arms training in Cambodia.

The 39 people were sent to Cambodia via several routes, bypassing all immigration checkpoints.

The 11 suspects in custody claimed they had met several red shirt leaders in Siem Reap, Pol Lt Col Phayao said.

Training took three weeks, he said. They were shown anti-monarchy videos during the first week, the second week involved lessons in general weapons knowledge, while the final week involved actual hands-on use of weapons, the investigator said.

They reportedly received 20,000 baht in cash upon completing the training, after which 35 of them returned to Thailand through Surin on Aug 16. Four others remained in Cambodia to act as bodyguards for red shirt leader Arisman Pongruangrong, he said.

The group of 11 presently in custody were summoned to the Chiang Mai resort to prepare for their missions. They were at the resort for more than a month prior to their arrest.

One of the 11 suspects, Kittichai Chansawat, reportedly could not stand the tough regimen at the resort and ran away, asking local people to bring him to the police, which led to the arrest of the other 10 suspects at the resort, Pol Lt Col Phayao said. Police reported earlier that a village headman had thought Mr Kittichai was acting strangely when he asked for directions and so he had called the police.

Investigators said they had seized detailed maps of planned routes to the homes of important people, including Mr Suthep.

The other members of the group alleged to have trained in Cambodia are suspected to have spread out to several provinces including Lop Buri, Bangkok, Chon Buri and Saraburi.

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