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Thai police got to an Ekamai apartment just in time as a gang of Japanese extortionists seemed to be preparing to murder and cut up a businessman.
In the room was a saw and bags for concealing a corpse.
Three Japanese men are helping police with their enquiries at Thong Lor police station in a case that a top brass officer said involves a lot of money.
Mr Watanabe, a businessman dealing in medical supplies, was abducted from the Chaeng Wattana area on Monday by men believed to be building contractors.
Police became aware of the case on Wednesday when his Thai wife and a friend reported his disappearance tyo 191 and Thong Lor police.
A ransom attempt had already been made and matters seemed to have taken a serious turn, reported Thai Rath.
Police managed to trace one of the abductors who was seen out in a Toyota Vios buying things near the end of Sukhumvit Soi 26. He was arrested and taken back to an apartment in Soi Ekamai Soi 23.
There police found Mr Watanabe tied to a bed with multiple wounds to his left leg and body made with a baseball bat.
He was in a serious condition.
Suthee Nerakanthee said that his men had arrived just in time. He said there was a saw in the room along with bags for concealing a corpse and it was clear that Mr Watanabe was in mortal danger.
The exact reason for the abduction is under investigation but three unnamed Japanese nationals are in custody at Tong Lor police station, he said, adding that the case involves a lot of money.
There may be more criminals involved.