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Stolen tusks returned but suspected ‘hermit’ thief still at large

Jun 12. 2017
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By Somjit Rungjamrasrassamee
The Nation

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Tak’s Umphang district chief Pratheep Photiam on Monday led a 10-member team of officials to collect sacred elephant tusks stolen from a Karen village in Umphang last week from Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) officers who helped to locate the stolen items.

However, the suspected thief, former village headman Baisu Khiridujjinda, remained at large.

The elaborately carved artefacts vanished from a pavilion at Letongkhu village in Tambon Mae Chan on Friday. 

Pratheep’s team carrying the tusks and a Buddha image was escorted by DKBA soldiers back to the border with Umphang and was expected to reach Letongkhu village later on Monday.

The two century-old tusks were found at a newly opened ashram on Mulayit Mountain in Myawaddy province within DKBA territory, where Baisu had reportedly become a hermit and planned to use the sacred tusks to attract disciples. 

Village leaders told police they suspected the former village headman had committed the theft as he had arrived at the village and asked to sleep in the pavilion area the night before the tusks were found missing. 

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