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Armed troops quelled a riot and freed besieged Phuket police early today

Armed Troops Quell Phuket Riot

Sunday, October 11, 2015
VIDEO The Battle for Phuket's Thalang Police Station

PHUKET: Armed troops quelled a protest riot early today by local residents who surrounded and besieged a Phuket police station for 15 hours, breaking windows and burning nine cars.

Scenes more like a war zone greeted holidaymakers on the Thai island today with ''peace talks'' scheduled for 9am at the Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City.

Only with the intervention of troops at 3.30am did the angry villagers abandon their protest.

A detachment of soldiers from Army Circle 41 in Nakkon Si Thammarat, about five hours by road from Phuket, was persuasive in calming tempers.

After listening to the leader of the troops, Major General Theenajak Jindange, protesters headed for home.

Today the Airports of Thailand management at Phuket International Airport listed scores of passengers who missed flights because the main north-south thoroughfare on the island, Thepkasattri Road, was blocked by the protest.

Road blockades and mass protests at police stations are a traditional way of resolving issues when all else fails for Phuket villagers.

Last night's protest followed the deaths of two young men aged 17 and 22, killed earlier in the day when a motorcycle crashed during a police pursuit on the road to Ton Sai waterfall, a well-known tourist spot on the eastern side of Phuket.

The youths were suspected of being involved with drugs.

A protest to the police station by family and friends grew in scale as the afternoon wore on and at its height, about 500 people were estimated to have the building surrounded.

Police officers were forced to barricade the building and take shelter upstairs as windows were shattered.

Young men in the crowd, primed by alcohol and with their identities hidden under motorcycle helmets, then began torching cars in the carpark. At least nine cars were lit and destroyed.

Phuket, usually peaceful and relaxing for millions of holidaymakers each year, hasn't seen scenes like last night since residents razed a controversial $77 million tantalum factory to the ground in 1986.

The Thalang Police Station protest followed weeks of concern about how tourism could be affected by the haze from burning forests in Indonesia, which led to some delays and diversions.

The haze had mostly cleared by the weekend, with blue skies returning to the holiday island.

Now, with photographs making Phuket look like a war zone, tourism has a new and daunting image problem.

Except for those people caught in traffic going to and from the airport, most holidaymakers along the island's popular west coast would have been unaware of what was happening close to the centre of the island.

Talks are scheduled for 9am to gain a sense of the villagers' grievances.

When the military took charge in Thailand in May last year, one of their first actions was to arrest and charge the leaders of three street blockades that had occurred before the takeover.

The message was plain that traditional Phuket blockades, especially those negatively affecting tourism, were unacceptable.

The Phuketwan news service is closing from December 31.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


How do the fires in Indonesia relate to mob rule in Phuket? This form of protest is common in Phuket and clearly shows how lawless the place is in the minds of locals. Why didn't the youths stop, why did they run? Maybe these are the questions you should be raising and try to point out to the locals not to hide behind ignorance and face some facts, the youth are out of control and drugs are a serious problem, maybe some points you could raise in this article which directly relate to the situation, forest fires in Indonesia, mai gow jai!

Posted by coxo on October 11, 2015 07:40

Editor Comment:

Can't you read, coxo? One day Phuket was facing the bad image of haze over the holiday island, the next, there were images of a riot. Simple enough for you? I really do wish commenters could add value, not just rant. Phuket plainly needs solutions, not doomsayers sounding off. You are just sounding off, coxo, with no thing to add.


It's always interesting in any society to see where the tipping point really is. It is usually something that seems somewhat innocent.

These people are clearly frustrated, angry and a little scared. People on the outside tend to misunderstand what drives people to these events, there are those who would attend any insurrection but some of these folks are normal everyday individuals who are pushed to the brink.

Some of that is economic, some social, some grief. But in any society overall frustration and lack of power is a big mover. Like Ferguson any real solution is not going to take place on a local level, they need to see something that makes them feel they were heard and it will whittle away the normal citizens and peace will return. The beat will bang on but the simmering will continue. It's always there.

In all countries and societies the pacifiying of and keeping the voiceless majority voiceless is a governments primary purpose. Sadly Thomas Paine beat me to that conclusion by a couple of hundred years.

Phuket tourism has defied SARS, bird flu, coups, corruption, a tsunami, taxi scams, tuk tuk scams, jewelry scams, jet ski scams, etc. ad infinitum I somehow think that it will survive a few grieving mothers.

Although I do agree with the editor that the two along with the beating of customers video doesn't do much for the current season's prospects.

Posted by Martin on October 11, 2015 11:07



theses will bring ZERO effect on tourism,

first,because these news are beyond focus of prospective customers,

second, even when they are,customers mostly don't care : remember,Koh Tao is voted destination of the year on TripAdvisor, and the pub by that beach had customers doing pub crawling and posing for photoshoots an a 2nd night after the murder.

Normally events that have weak influence on local holiday life like a coup in BKK brings disproportional negative effects on the markets that are sensitive to news about political instability, like PRC or RoC.

Posted by Sue on October 11, 2015 14:12


Strangely I agree with Sue

People booking trips in a travel agent in Sydney, London, Helsinki or Beijing are unlikely to see any of this news, let alone care

The busy season is coming, I wish that for all local business owners that it's a successful one.

Posted by Discover Thainess on October 11, 2015 19:01


No need for some readers to offer an unnecessary complex an detailed explanation for an event which has a basic explanation. The people involved were the immediate families and friends of the deceased. The now common quality of selfishness was on full display. It was all about the family's "face". The two deceased will now be described as well behaved angels. The youths who rioted were taking advantage of an opportunity to vandalize and run amuck: Classic mob behaviour and one seen around the world, and regularly in Phuket. 65 year olds don't rampage like that, just 14-30 year olds. Local government failed once again in not quashing the protest before it got out of control. As long as these protests go uncontested, they will continue. No one will be arrested and held responsible for the damages caused. Mai pen rai for those who suffered financial loss and inconvenience.

Posted by Ryan on October 11, 2015 22:32


seem to be armed troops with no ammunition

Posted by mike on October 11, 2015 22:39

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