BANGKOK — Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said today he’s received reports of a possible attempt on his life, as police said Redshirt activists behind a disrupted terror plot are linked to an alleged radical Redshirt cell in Khon Kaen province accused last year of inciting insurrection.
Deputy police chief Sriwarah Rangsipramkul said today the military has detained two Redshirt supporters for a week and are seeking seven more in connection with an unspecified conspiracy to cause “unrest,” possibly by assassinating junta chairman Prayuth.
Yesterday Sriwarah told media agencies the group was planning to disrupt the nationwide Bike for Dad cycling event organized by the government to honor Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his father, King Bhumibol. Today the police general indicated he was no longer sure about their objective.
“They have targets, but we cannot confirm what those targets are,” Sriwarah said. However, he believes the group could have been thinking about seizing army barracks in the northeast as a starting point to unleash their alleged campaign of terror.
Several Redshirt leaders have dismissed the alleged plot as a work of fiction by authorities to distract the public from ongoing embarrassment over alleged corruption in the army’s Rajabhakti Park “history park.”
Sriwarah said only the two suspects have been arrested, contradicting the three reported Wednesday by his boss, police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. “Seven more are on the run. The court has issued arrest warrants for all of them,” Sriwarah told reporters today.
According to Sriwarah, the nine suspects are members of the “Khon Kaen Model,” which was the name given to an alleged group of militant Redshirts based in Khon Kaen province, who last year were said to be plotting insurrection against the military regime after it seized power from the Redshirt-backed government in May 2014.
The name, police said, came from the group’s desire their rebellion would be a “model” inspiring Redshirts in other provinces to launch their own uprisings.
Twenty-six people now face trial in military court for their alleged roles in the “Khon Kaen Model,” but Sriwarah said today the group and its objectives live on, despite the crackdown and mass arrests.
“These people have been active all along,” Sriwarah said.
The two arrested suspects were identified as former Border Patrol Police officer Prathin Chanket and a civilian named Nattapol Nawanle. Sriwarah said they were held in military custody for a week before being transferred today to police.
Border Patrol Police officer Prathin Chanket sits at police headquarters today in Bangkok.
Rumors about a terror attack and plot to assassinate junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha have circulated since Monday, but police chief Chakthip only acknowledged Wednesday that police were investigating the alleged plot.
“I can tell you that this group is targeting Bangkok for their attacks. There’s information that their objective is certain important figures in the government,” Gen. Chakthip said.
Gen. Prayuth told reporters today he’s undeterred by the alleged threat and will continue visiting northeastern provinces for government affairs.
“I can visit any area. I’m already risking my life these days anyway. I’m not afraid. Don’t you think I’m not risking my life now?” Prayuth said at Government House.
Gen. Prayuth speaks to reporters today at Government House in Bangkok
Yesterday Redshirt leader Weng Tojirakarn dismissed the story as a “farce.” Today, another high-ranking redshirt, Worachai Hema, said it was absurd.
“Let me ask you, how can possibly harm or do anything to Gen. Prayuth? He has troops of an entire army. He has armored vehicles that cost tens of million baht each. Who will dare harm Gen. Prayuth?” said Worachai, who also served as an MP in the toppled government.
He said the Redshirt movement has nothing to gain from violence.
“The [Redshirt movement] has been insisting all along that we uphold nonviolent methods and democracy,” Worachai said. “Those who use violence in politics will eventually lose to the power of people who love peace.”
Worachai also voiced his suspicion that the military government may be publicizing news about the attempted terror plot to divert public attention from the ongoing investigation into Rajabhakti Park, the army-constructed massive monument said to be rife with corruption.
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