DSI seizes huge cache of smuggled arms in Surin

BANGKOK, Feb 23 -- The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and security agencies have seized a large number of smuggled arms hidden in the northeastern province of Surin but say the munitions were not related to the bomb incidents in Bangkok on February 14.

In a joint news conference of DSI, Royal Thai Army, and Border Patrol Police Bureau at DSI headquarters, along with a display of some of the seized heavy weapons, DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit told reporters that the munitions were found hidden in a bush near a commercial building in Prasat district of Surin.

According to intelligence reports, they belonged to two groups of influential Thai figures and could possibly be used to stage unrest or be smuggled out of the country.

Among the seized munitions were 36 grenades for rocket-propelled grenade (RPG-7); 64 grenades of 60mm mortar shells, 144 rounds of M79 and M203 grenades and 1,437 rounds of rifle ammunition.

Mr Tharit said that security officials found the ammunition as they were about to be delivered. The transfer was aborted due to pressure by the security agencies.

However, the director-general said that the route and origin of the ammunition could not be revealed as authorities were investigating for more information and seeking to arrest people involved in the ring. Names of the influential figures also could not be made public.

The ammunition seized was believed to be used to foment violent unrest or in preparation to smuggling out of the country, he said. The investigation would focus on wide range of issues including the possibility that the ammunition could be used by drug trafficking syndicates, terrorist groups or for southern unrest.

The DSI chief stressed that the ammunition was not related to the three bomb blasts in Sukhumvit 71 on February 14. (MCOT online news)
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