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15 Jun 2006 11:05
Thai police were on Thursday hunting for a gunman who shot dead two noisy World Cup fans at point-blank range after they ignored his request to be quiet, a police official said.
The gunman was sitting next to 10 Thai football fans who watched Monday’s Italy-Ghana match on TV at a restaurant in the popular seaside resort of Pattaya, 70km south-east of Bangkok.
The fans went wild when Italy scored a goal against Ghana in the match broadcast in Thailand in the early hours of Tuesday, and an argument broke out when the gunman asked them to be quiet, said the police official.
“The gunman came alone and he could not fight against all the 10 people,” Pattaya police Major Somphol Nakkhamphan told Agence France-Presse. “So he used his gun to kill the victims.”
Details remained sketchy about the shooting in the resort town notorious for its red-light district and organised crime.
Another police official, Chanapat Navalak, insisted the dispute was chiefly fuelled by alcohol and not football, calling it a case of “just three drunken men fighting against each other”.
“We know the suspect and are searching for him,” Somphol said, adding that the killer used a handgun.
Kanyarat Tiemproh, a chef at the crime scene, the Food and Drink Pub and Restaurant, told a local daily that the victims had kept talking about the Italy-Ghana game “too loudly” even after the match.
“The gunman approached them and asked them to be more quiet but the victims got angry and they started having a row,” she was quoted by the Thai-language Daily News as saying.
“Then I heard several gunshots before the gunman ran to his Mercedes-Benz and drove away quickly,” the chef said.
Thailand does not compete in the World Cup but is passionate about football and gambling.
People are expected to wager nearly $1-billion on the tournament, according to one research centre.—AFP
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