Conflict over money likely cause of Krabi massacre

Conflict over money likely cause of Krabi massacre
Forensic officials and police yesterday collect evidence at the scene where Worayuth Sunglung, a village head in Krabi’s Ao Luk district, was murdered in an execution-style shooting alongside his wife and six other family members on Monday night.
PHOTO: The Nation/Asia News Network

Survivor in Krabi massacre says she remembers faces of some attackers.

Conflict over a collapsing stone-mill project has emerged as the strongest possible motive behind the merciless massacre of a village head's family in Krabi province.

"Available evidence suggests the village head received money from investors in return for support for the project. But as he failed to deliver, these investors demanded their money back. That probably led to the killings," a police source said yesterday.

"These investors have been affiliated with local politicians and influential figures."

Worayuth Sunglung, a village head in Krabi's Ao Luk district, was murdered in an execution-style shooting alongside his wife and six other family members inside their home on Monday night.

Three other family members survived the attack with injuries. Only the youngest member, a three-month-old baby, was not harmed.

According to the same police source, a survivor heard her attackers talking about money that was given to Worayuth.

The witness reportedly told police that she could remember all four attackers she had seen inside the house, although one of them was wearing a hood. She, however, did not see their accomplices who were positioned outside the house.

"She believes the hooded one must be someone her family knows," the source said. A sketch of the suspect's appearance was circulated among local media yesterday but police denied releasing the sketch.

"Following the shootings, the attackers got out of the house and made a phone call as if to report the results to someone," the survivor was quoted as saying. All survivors have now been placed under police protection. Krabi Governor Pinij Boonlert also ordered that psychiatrists help the victims cope with the trauma.

Although the stone-mill conflict is now the main focus of the investigation, other motives are still being explored. Worayuth apparently had a conflict with Tambon Ban Klang Administrative Organisation chief executive Manas Chubutr, a court dispute with some encroachers, and drug issues.

'Never before in Krabi' Manas yesterday admitted that he had quarrelled with the village head.

"But such conflicts are common during the work process. It is by no means serious enough to inspire an attack, let alone the massacre. A crime of this scale has never happened in Krabi before," Manas said.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has said the massacre had shaken public morale.

He has instructed police to ensure the attackers are brought to justice, national police Commissioner Pol General Chaktip Chaijinda said.

"I am confident that we will be able to arrest the attackers," Chaktip said.

Krabi police are now checking surveillance recordings from CCTV cameras along the route the assailants are believed to have used when fleeing the scene. A local resident told police the attackers used a black Toyota Fortuner because they stopped to ask for directions to Worayuth's house, saying something about a court order.

The gunmen also took Worayuth's Toyota Yaris car after the shooting. CCTV records suggest that the attackers took the route that could lead to Surat Thani, Phatthalung and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces.

Central Police Forensic Science Division commander Pol Maj-General Tawatchai Mekpr-asertsuk said forensic tests were being conducted to collect fingerprints from a gun found at the crime scene.

"We are also examining bullets that have been taken out of the victims' bodies," he said.

Fourth Army Area chief Piyawat Nakwanich said the massacre was not related to unrest in the deep South.

"Attacks related to the unrest always end fast. But in this case, the attackers spent up to eight hours at the house of the victims," he said.

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