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Search launched for explosives, mines on bird’s nest islands in Phang Nga Bay

PHUKET: Two men have been charged with possession of bomb-making materials on an island in Phang Nga Bay following an investigation into fishermen being wounded by an apparent land mine early last week. One of the men injured in the blast later died from his injuries.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Friday 29 March 2019, 04:04PM

Officers led by Krabi Police Deputy Chief Col Tanit Ramdit and Ao Luek Police Chief Col Kritnat Wongklahan raided the island, Koh Thalu, yesterday (Mar 28).

Joining the raid party were police investigators, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel and Marine Police.

The raid team found bomb-making materials at a shelter at the entrance to a bird’s nest cave.

Officers also arrested Choknapat Khunkham, 44, and an 18-year-old man who police so far have named only as “Mr Eak”, both of whom had been hired to guard the bird’s nest cave.

Among the materials found were a bag containing electrical wires, batteries, nails, electronic panels and a blasting cap.

Chokapanat and Eak were both taken into custody and charged with with possession of explosives and weapons without a permit.

They have both denied the charges against them, saying they were not involved with the bomb materials found.

They were just hired to look after the island and protect the island from bird’s nest thieves, the men said.

Police did not name the person or company with the government concession to operate a bird’s nest operation on the island.

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However, Provincial Police Region 8 Chief Lt Gen Pongwuth Pongsri ordered officers to continue their search and check all islands in their respective areas, and to identify who had ordered for hidden bombs to be placed to protect any bird’s nest sites in the area, which is frequented by tourists enjoying boat tours to islands in the bay.

Police suspect more explosives may have been planted on another island in the area, Koh Lao Pai.

The intensity to find the perpetrator follows one of the two men seriously injured by a blast on Koh Lao Pai – just handful of kilometres north of Koh Yao Noi – dying from his injuries last week.

The slain fishermen Boodrod Thongdee, 25, stepped on a mine on Koh Lao Pai, police explained.

Walking alongside Mr Boonrod was his relative Somkid Thongdee, 38, who suffered blast injuries to his right leg, a broken right arm, injuries to his left shoulder, left ankle and wounds to his face. (See story here.)

Mr Somkid was rushed back to the mainland for emergency treatment, and has survived his injuries.

The third man, fellow relative Somchai Thongdee, 35, was also injured in the blast, but not critically.

The three men, all residents of Krabi, had gone to the island to collect orchids.

They were climbing up past a bird’s nest cave when Mr Boonrod stepped on the mine, police explained.



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