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Police hold two suspects for gun attack on Phuket Imam

PHUKET: Police are questioning two men in hospital for the attempted assassination of a Phuket Imam while he was driving home last night (Aug 4).

police, crime, violence,

Eakkapop Thongtub

Friday 5 August 2016, 10:34AM

The Imam, Weerachart Kahapana, of Baan Bangpae Mosque in Pa Khlok, is also in the same hospital recovering from a bullet wound to the abdomen.

His 3-year-old son, who was sitting on the back seat of the car when his assailants opened fire, was unharmed in the attack.

Police were alerted to the shooting, in Soi Koh Kaew 24, off Thepkrasattri Rd – in the heart of the Koh Kaew subdistrict north of Phuket Town – at 8:45pm. Phuket City Police Chief Col Kamol Osiri, Deputy Chief Col Peerayuth Karajadee and forensic officers responded to the call.

At the scene, officers found a Honda City sedan crashed into a guard rail and a concrete pole. There were four bullet holes in the driver’s window.

Jammed under the front of the vehicle was a Honda Dream motorbike without a license plate. Nearby on the road was a pair of flip-flops and two full-face helmets.

The driver of the car, Imam Weerachart, was rushed to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket Town. He was conscious and recounted the attack to police.

Imam Weerachart, who is also a member of the Phuket Islamic Committee, said he was driving home when the black motorbike pulled alongside.

“The passenger pulled out a gun and pointed it at me through the driver’s window and shot four times. I was hit once in the stomach,” he said.

Imam Weerachart crashed his vehicle into the suspects’ motorbike to stop the attack, he said.

The two suspects then fled the scene on foot, and stole another Honda Dream motorbike that was parked in front a nearby house to make their getaway.

Police were told that the suspects were last seen in Soi Koh Kaew 22, heading toward Thepkrasattri Rd, believed to be heading toward Phuket Town or the bypass road. One of the suspects reportedly had suffered an injury to a knee.

All police on the island were alerted to be on the lookout for the suspects, but at half-past midnight – 12:30am today (Aug 5) – Phuket Provincial Police Chief Investigator Col Akanit Danpitaksarn received a call from staff at Vachira Phuket Hospital emergency room.

The medical staff reported that two men involved in a motorbike accident being treated for scrapes and bruises all over their bodies were acting suspiciously.

The men had been transferred from Thalang Hospital.

Police arrived at Vachira Hospital to question the two men, who police called “Pee” and “Chai” (not their real names), both 24.

The men are suspected of the attempted slaying of Imam Weerachat, police have confirmed.

“We have officers monitoring them 24 hours while they receive treatment at the hospital to prevent them from escaping until we question them about the incident,” Col Akanit said.

Police have yet to reveal a possible motive for the attack.



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