Soldier 'trained' student thugs

Ayutthaya police have asked Saraburi military commanders to investigate a young private accused of applying his army skills to train vocational college students involved in a violent interschool brawl on Aug 28.

Police said they viewed his involvement as an offence and a threat to national security.

The soldier was identified as Pvt Rapeepat Phothitanuch, 22, a native of Ayutthaya. Police believe he is currently stationed at Adisorn military camp in Saraburi province.

Pvt Rapeepat is accused of leading 18 students from Ayutthaya Technical College into a brawl with rival students of Ayutthaya Ship Building Industrial and Technology College at a busy fresh market in Ayutthaya’s municipality last Thursday. They were armed with machetes, swords and axes. The clash left three rival students injured, one of them seriously. 

Police captured six of the students on the spot and then obtained arrest warrants for the other 13, including Pvt Rapeepat, on charges of colluding to commit murderl, assault and carrying weapons in public. Two of the wanted students surrendered to police on Monday. The others were still at large. 

Pol Col Phuwadit Chanakotchapat, deputy chief of Ayutthaya, said a surveillance camera captured pictures of Pvt Rapeepat, aka "Art Technic", holding a machete and chasing after students from the other vocational college. 

He filed an urgent request with Saraburi Military District through Ayutthaya’s Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), asking that the private be investigated.     

After graduating from Ayutthaya Technical College, Pol Col Phuwadit said, the suspect was conscripted about a year ago and served with Saraburi Military District.

An investigation indicated he had used his military training to boost the fighting skills of young men at the campus and set up a group called “Ayodhaya Warriors Army”. His behaviour was categorised as “a national threat”, he said. 

Pol Col Phuwadit said the young soldier had trained several groups of the so-called Ayodhaya warriors. There were “field operations” to test their skills which involved launching armed attacks against members of rival schools. The members contacted one another via Facebook and mobile phones.  

The students who were detained confirmed Pvt Rapeepat was the leader of the vocational school warriors group. Investigators believe Pvt Rapeepat may also have provided firearms training to the students, in addition to tactical skills and hand-to-hand and knife combat training, he added.      

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