POLICE in Thailand on Saturday said they have arrested a suspect in the execution-style murders of eight members of a family in touristy Krabi province following the massacre that shocked the nation last week.
According to the Bangkok Post, investigators from the police Crime Suppression Division believe the suspect played the role of the “mastermind” behind the brutal killings.
A source close to the investigation, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the suspect was believed to have spoken to Vorayuth Sanglang, the main target of the murder, before he was killed.
The source said call records indicated that Vorayuth reportedly spoke to a friend on his mobile phone for over 10 minutes before he was gunned down.
The source added the suspect was a “partner in a stone mill” as a dispute over a stone mill project was believed to be the motive behind the killings.
Police believe Vorayuth, a village head who in 2015 worked for Ao Luk Sila Thong Co in 2015 which took over a stone mill project from another company, had received funds from financiers to help quell protests on the matter by residents.
However, Vorayuth had triggered conflict with the project financiers after failing to calm the residents on the project.
Police earlier said they were looking for seven suspects in connection to the massacre which left three males and five females, including three children, dead in their house in a village near Krabi.
The authorities also say the masked men wearing military-style camouflage outfits and masks could be former soldiers.
Thailand has a high rate of gun ownership and many people carry guns for self-protection, but such mass shootings are very rare.
According to the Interior Ministry, there are 6.1 million registered firearms in the country of 67 million people, but there are also many unregistered guns in circulation.
According to 2016 data from the University of Washington, Thailand had the highest reported rate of gun-related deaths out of 10 countries in Asia, about 50 percent higher than the Philippines, which came second on the list.
Krabi is most commonly known as a destination of choice for holiday-goers seeking scenic beaches, but the mass murder on Monday was in an area unfrequented by tourists.