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Ten men, five of them soldiers from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, have been arrested for taking a Ukrainian couple hostage overnight and then demanding half a million US dollars (B15 million) from them.
But what should have been a smooth operation to get the money ended in the ten being arrested.
But she went immediately to Chalong Police Station to ask for help.
Lt Col Chukiat Imjaitam, deputy superintendent of Chalong Police, told The Phuket News that the couple owed money to a man in the Ukraine with whom they had been involved in a “grey” business.
A Phuket News contact was shown a police alert that mentioned the Ukranians in connection with a skimming gang.
Col Chukiat said the Ukranian businessman hired the five soldiers to collect on the debt. It is not clear yet how the other five Thais became involved.
After releasing the woman, the 10 took Mr Iermakov to a Kasikorn bank branch in Rawai, but discovered that there was only B1 million in the account.
They then took him to the Kbank branch near Chalong Circle – and near Chalong Police Station – where the abductors told their hostage he could give them a cheque for the money but ordered him to call his wife to meet them at the bank.
Travelling in three cars, the ten with Mr Iermakov arrived at the bank. Told of the rendezvous by Mrs Iermakov, the police were waiting for them and arrested them before they could go inside.
The five soldiers, when caught, were in possession of a variety of weapons, including 11mm pistols and Heckler & Koch 33 assault weapons. Happily there was no gunplay.
The ten people arrested were name as follows:
Master Sergeant 3rd Class Sumit Chuaybamrung, 49, from Surat Thani;
Sgt Kachenpong Boonmee, 43, from Nakorn Sri Thammarat;
Sgt Wichien Suknun, 42, from Nakorn Sri Thammarat;
Pvt Reuchai Promthongkeaw, 22, from Nakorn Sri Thammarat
Pvt Phisit Keawwihok, 26, from Nakorn Sri Thammarat
Prawit Edyao, 36, from Trang;
Ms Oranuch Tiyapongphatthana, 40, from Phuket;
Kemtichai Pansao, 32, from Nan;
Bandal Inmang, 35, from Phuket; and
Somporn Chaisit, 58, from Surat Thani.
Initial reports that some of the abductors were Tourist Police volunteers were strenuously denied by Capt Uramphon Kundetsumrit of the Tourist Police. He said that none of the names revealed worked for his department.
It is not clear how the Ukrainian businessman was able to hire the soldiers.
Additional reporting and photographs by Eakkapop Tongtub