The Bangkok Post:
The army has ordered all units to return unused bullets from last year’s protests after it was revealed in parliament that 100,000 were fired, including about 2,500 sniper rounds.
Pol Lt Col Somchai Phetprasoet, a Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima and chairman of the House committee on military affairs, told the House that army units withdrew about 600,000 bullets from arsenals for the crackdown, including 3,000 7.62-mm bullets for SG-3000 sniper rifles.
They used more than 100,000 of them in their operations against red-shirt protesters.
The remarks set off alarm in the army, sources say. The army chief has asked all army units that took part in the crackdown to return the unused ammunition to the arsenals.
Ninety-two died after clashes between soldiers and red-shirt protesters in April and May last year.
Pol Lt Col Somchai made the claims during the no-confidence debate against the government last week.
Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha recently told all army units that were involved in red-shirt crackdown from March 12 to May 19, 2010 that the residual ammunition needed to be accounted for.
An army source said Gen Prayuth and the army chief of staff, Gen Dapong Rattanasuwan, were alarmed that so many bullets were fired.
Pol Lt Col Somchai said that of the 3,000 sniper bullets taken out of armouries, only 480 were returned.
About 50,000 bullets for M1 rifles, which are used in ambush operations, were withdrawn from arsenals for the operations.
After the operations, 45,158 of them were returned.
According to Pol Lt Col Somchai, altogether 597,500 bullets were taken out of army arsenals and 479,577 returned.
That meant that altogether, 117,923 bullets were fired, he told the House.
After hearing the claims in parliament, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva asked the army to supply him with the details, the source said.
The army told the prime minister that the figures presented to the House applied at the time when units had yet to return any bullets.
The army chief has ordered all units to quickly return all ammunition to arsenals, so the army could work out the exact number of bullets fired during the crackdown on the red shirts.
The source added that the army earlier ordered all units to delay returning the ammunition because it did not want the figures to come to light.
The source said Pol Lt Col Somchai’s information on the ammunition was accurate.
However, some figures might have changed because some units have since returned the residual bullets to army arsenals.
The number of bullets returned as given in the figures presented to the House may represent an incomplete picture.
BP: Okay, 597,500 bullets were prepared? No wonder they didn’t want anyone to hear how many bullets were fired. However, because only 479,577 bullets were returned does not mean that 117,923 bullets were fired. It only means that 479,577 bullets were returned and the whereabouts of 117,923 bullets is unknown. There are a few possibilities, (a) all the bullets were fired, (b) some of the bullets were fired and other bullets have gone “missing” (ie sold or simply kept and about to be sold). Given how many military weapons are sold, BP thinks there is a good chance that (b) is the answer. Either way it looks bad for the army although (b) is not as bad as (a)….