Angry crowd riots on Phuket after 2 killed in police crash

PHUKET, THAILAND: An angry crowd hurled homemade fire bombs and torched vehicles at a police station on Thailand's resort island of Phuket to protest the deaths of two young men who died in a motorcycle crash while being chased by police, authorities said Sunday.

No tourists were injured by the violence, which started Saturday evening and ended early Sunday, said Phuket police Lt. Col. Amnuay Kraiwuttinan. But local media reported that scores of people missed flights as a result of the riot, which blocked a main road to the airport for several hours.

The protest occurred outside the island's main tourist areas at the Thalang Police Station, where a crowd that swelled to more than 300 people blocked the road between 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday, Amnuay said.

Police and soldiers were called in to restore order early Sunday after at least nine cars were set on fire and 11 other vehicles damaged by the crowd, which hurled objects at the police station as officers were trapped inside, he said.

"They threw things to break the windows first, then they threw fire bombs at the police station and we had to move inside. It was a riot. It was loud and chaotic," Amnuay said, adding that officers were instructed to stay calm and not fight back.

Police were investigating the deaths of the two young Thai men, who were 17 and 22 years old.

Amnuay said police suspected the men of drug possession after they sped past a police checkpoint and refused to stop, prompting officers to chase them.