Man kills 3, including 2-year-old, in Thailand robbery rampage

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020   •   225

Bangkok – Thai police were looking Friday for a man who killed three people, among them a young child, during a robbery in a central province in the country.

Authorities said the man killed the victims – including a two-year-old child – and wounded another four Thursday night as he robbed the Aurora gold shop inside Robinson shopping center in Lopburi province, Thailand.

“I would say that this man is violent and cruel. He only wanted to rob but he killed a lot of people. And those he killed did not even try to fight him,” Deputy National Police Chief Gen. Wirachai Songmetta said in a Friday press conference.

He added that he believed the assailant had been at the store prior to the attack and that his team would seek help from people at the shopping center to identify him.

“We would like to ask for collaboration from the public, especially people from nearby stores, please check whether you have seen someone similar to this guy before,” Wirachai said.

Police said the man, who was wielding a gun with a silencer, first shot at a security guard before proceeding with his rampage.

Security camera footage shows how a man wearing a balaclava shoots at customers and staff while approaching the counter. He then gets on the counter and proceeds to walk up and down, before rummaging through valuables and making off with a handful of jewelry.

A separate video shows how a child walking by falls to the ground after sustaining a wound to the head before his mother takes him away to find cover. Authorities said the boy died at the hospital.

“I never thought this would happen to us, it all occurred so fast, it’s left us heartbroken,” the boy’s mother wrote on Facebook under her username, I’wi Wilaiwan Triton.

Authorities said the man fled on a red-and-white Yamaha Fino motorbike without a license plate and that they had deployed police commandos to assist the hunt.

“The information we have is useful and we are now analyzing it and will later synchronize it with other information. It is all useful but we cannot reveal anything at the moment,” Wirachai said, adding that police believed the man to be about 166 centimeters (5 feet, 4 inches) tall and “very good at using weapons.”

Out of the more than 10 million firearms in Thailand, only 6 million are legally registered, according to Australian monitoring organization GunPolicy.org. EFE-EPA

lds/dl

Suspect arrested in robbery, gruesome death of toddler in Thailand

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

Thai police officers conduct an investigation next to the body of a victim at a crime scene after a robbery inside a department store in Lopburi province, Thailand, 09 January 2020 (issued 10 January 2020). EPA-EFE FILE/STR

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok –
Police said Wednesday they had arrested a man they suspect killed three people, among them a toddler, and injured another four during the robbery of a jewelry shop in a central province in Thailand.

Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, a commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, confirmed the arrest of Prasittichai Khaokaew, a 39-year-old school director, who he said was linked to the gruesome incident at a Lopburi province shopping center earlier this month, footage of which went viral.

“The alleged offender has been questioned about his motives but details cannot be revealed at the moment since we have not finished the investigation process yet,” Chakthip said during a media briefing.

Prasittichai was arrested Wednesday morning after the criminal court issued an arrest warrant Tuesday evening.

Police did not reveal further details and said another press conference would be held at 10.30 am on Thursday at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters in the capital Bangkok, adding they would address the motives and official charges against the suspect.

“The alleged offender did not deny any of the charges,” the commissioner-general said. “He thought he wouldn’t be able to get away with it.”

Chakthip also said Prasittichai did not resist arrest and that he “accepted his own mistakes.”

Prasittichai teaches at Wat Phochai School, a primary school located in Singburi, a neighboring province of Lopburi. Local media said he was originally from Lopburi, but police did not confirm this.

Security camera footage from Jan. 10 shows how a man wearing a balaclava shoots at customers and staff while approaching the counter. He then gets on the counter and proceeds to walk up and down, before rummaging through valuables and making off with a handful of jewelry.

Police said the man, who was wielding a gun with a silencer, first shot at a security guard before proceeding with his rampage.

A separate video shows how a child walking by falls to the ground after sustaining a wound to the head before his mother takes him away to find cover. Authorities said the boy died at the hospital.

Out of the more than 10 million firearms in Thailand, only 6 million are legally registered, according to Australian monitoring organization GunPolicy.org. EFE-EPA

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Bangkok schools shut as Thai PM blames public for toxic smog

UNTV News   •   January 22, 2020

A Thai Buddhist monk wears a face mask to guard against poor air quality during morning alms in Bangkok, Thailand, 16 January 2020. EFE-EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

By Lobsang DS Subirana

Bangkok – Hundreds of schools closed Wednesday in Thailand’s capital after an order from authorities, following air pollution levels in the city that have exceeded hazardous levels for weeks and have even seen the prime minister blame the public for the issue.

The persistence of toxic smog that blankets Bangkok led the city’s metropolitan administration to order 437 schools closed, a recurrent annual event in a city that has suffered from the authorities’ inaction to tackle this major public health concern.

“In Bangkok, 437 schools will be closed for one day starting [Wednesday] to avoid the danger of harmful particles exceeding healthy standards and to help reduce the number of cars on the road that have to pick up and drop off students during rush hour,” Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang wrote Tuesday in a statement posted to his Facebook page.

The city’s levels of PM2.5 particles, the finest and most harmful kind, have regularly exceeded its own 50-microgram per cubic meter “safe” threshold – set at double that of the World Health Organization’s at 25 micrograms per cubic meter – in the first weeks of the year.

Monitoring agency Air Visual counted 10 days of the last two weeks in which the air quality exceeded local thresholds – and WHO thresholds on all 14 days, including a Monday high of 79 micrograms per cubic meter.

On all those days, Bangkok consistently ranked among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, registering an “Unhealthy” Air Quality Index (AQI) value above 151 on at least half of them, in some cases entering the 201 threshold of “Very Unhealthy.”

To tackle these problems, Aswin said he had ordered 68 health centers and 50 district offices to provide masks for the general public and encourage that they be worn while performing outdoor activities.

Outdoor activities are what monitoring agencies least recommend when air pollution levels exceed 151 on the AQI, with Air Visual insisting people are likely to experience an “increased likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to the heart and lungs among general public.”

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha proceeded to blame the public for the situation following a Tuesday cabinet meeting in Narathiwat province.

“The public is responsible and a culprit in the PM2.5 problem,” Prayuth told the media, but added that he was willing to take measures to attempt to tackle the matter. “The government will consider all directives and actions, such as banning private vehicles and encourage people to use only public transportation.” EFE-EPA

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Thai TV broadcasts censored images of single-use plastic

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

A shop attendant prepares reusable bags at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, 01 January 2020. All major grocery stores, retailers and convenience stores across Thailand on 01 January started to ban single-use plastic bags and demanding customer to bring reusable bag as part of a campaign aimed at reducing the country’s plastic bag usage. Each year up to 45 billion plastic bags are used in Thailand, according to the Pollution Control Department. Thailand is one of the world’s largest plastic polluters, generating more than two million tons of plastic waste every year. EPA-EFE/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Bangkok – Thai television channels are broadcasting censored images of single-use plastic, something the public remarked in the first days of the year.

Content displaying single-use plastic in eight television channels in Thailand was being blurred, which surprised the country’s public, as the material was added to a list of other items usually censored on the country’s silver screen.

Thailand’s Natural Resources Minister Varavuth Silpa-archa said that while it could seem an odd decision, blurring this content on television would make a recently enforced single-use plastic ban more noticeable to the public, who since Wednesday have had to adapt to the new law.

“Some people might think blurring single-use plastic bags doesn’t help reduce their use, however, Thai society has become aware of the policy [enforced] from Jan. 1 thanks to some channels – eight channels, to be exact,” said in a statement.

The comments come on the back of an agreement signed Dec. 18 between eight television channels, in which they agreed to pixelate the display of single-use plastic bags, as is already done with alcohol, cigarettes and weapons.

The nationwide prohibition means convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, MaxValu or Tesco Lotus are now banned from providing these bags following purchases.

However, the transition wasn’t immediate, with some stores Friday still offering them.

Pichmol Rugrod, team leader of Plastic-Free Future – a project by environmental organization Greenpeace Thailand – said Friday that she is neither in favor nor against the channels’ decision.

“I wouldn’t say I disagree. There are many ways to [raise awareness] other than blurring content,” she said. “For example, protagonists in soap operas can use cloth bags on a daily basis so that people can perceive the change more naturally.”

She added that censoring images would actually make single-use plastic more noticeable.

State broadcaster National News Bureau of Thailand said plastic accounts for about 80 percent of Thailand’s 2.7-million tons of annual waste – a figure it says the ban will significantly reduce, adding that plastic bag usage would be reduced by 30 percent or 12-billion yearly bags.

The broadcaster said that following last year’s numerous campaigns discouraging single-use plastic, the country’s rank as the world’s sixth-largest source of marine debris had fallen four places.

The environmental department said last month it expected more channels to join the campaign to blur single-use plastic on television, something it believes will encourage audiences to change their behavior and raise public awareness on their negative environmental impact.

Thailand has often led strong campaigns to discourage the use or public exposure to items it considers harmful or unsightly. It is common to see cleavages, men’s bare chests, blood, alcohol and cigarettes – or any labels associated with the latter two – censored on Thai television. EFE-EPA

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