Police alleged Ko Tee’s gang plotted to assassinate government leaders

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan have been targeted for assassination by a group of men associated with leading red-shirt figure in Pathum Thani, Wuthipong Kotthammakul, alias Ko Tee, said Pol Maj-Gen Sombat Milinthachinda, deputy commissioner of First Region Provincial Police Bureau, at a press conference on Sunday.

The press conference was also attended by Pol Gen Chakthip Chaichinda, the national police chief, Pol Gen Srivara Rangsipromnakul, the national deputy police chief, and Department of Special Investigation director-general Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang.

War weapons seized from Ko Tee's company in Pathum Thani a day earlier were shown at the conference. They include four M16 assault rifles, one M79 grenade launcher, one M2 carbine, one shotgun and five different types of guns together with about 5,000 rounds of ammunition. Three red-shirt flags were also seized.

Nine suspects were held in military custody for questioning. Their identities were not disclosed.

Pol Gen Chakthip told the press conference that the raid of Ko Tee's company in Pathum Thani and search of a container yard in Samut Prakan followed an intelligence report that elements linked to Ko Tee were storing up illegal arms to stage violent incidents during the siege of Wat Dhammakaya early March.

He noted that the rifles mounted with telescope were definitely not meant to shoot birds but to shoot people or government leaders.

He disclosed that attempt to arrest Ko Tee who is believed to be hiding in a neighbouring country has not been successful due to lack of cooperation.

Pol Maj-Gen Sombat alleged that Ko Tee and his associates had used social media to attack the government and to incite anti-government sentiments among Dhammakaya followers during the temple's siege. He claimed that one of the nine suspects held in military custody was spotted among Dhammakaya followers during the siege.

Sombat claimed that the seized war weapons were intended for use to assassinate government leaders and that Ko Tee's network had undertaken activities deemed defaming the Monarchy.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)