Bangkok: Thai Security officials seized a large weapons cache in the country`s restive southern province of Narathiwat, thwarting what they claim was a terror plot planned for the New Year holidays.
The discovery followed the arrest on Thursday of Rutsaran Sale, alleged leader of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) insurgent group.
Narathiwat, bordering Malaysia, is one of the four Muslim majority province in the predominantly Buddhist country. Southern Thailand has been witnessing terror attacks over the years.
The officers were inspecting a rubber plantation in Cho Airong district late Friday and early Saturday when they found the weapons and explosive materials buried beneath some of the rubber trees.
One AK and five M16 assault rifles, a shotgun and several hundred rounds of ammunition were uncovered, along with 20 kilogrammes of urea fertiliser and several sheets of metal which can be used to manufacture explosives.
Officers believe the weapons were being stockpiled by Rutsaran for use in attacks over the long weekend.
Rutsaran was arrested on charges of attacking a marine police unit in Tak Bai district and shooting a teacher in Cho Airong district.
His interrogation led officers to the weapons.
An initial check of the seized M16 rifles found three were among the 413 guns stolen from the 4th Development Battalion on Janyary 4, 2004.
Four soldiers were killed that day.
The theft is often considered as marking the beginning of a new phase of the southern insurgency.