Three members of a British family were punched to the ground and knocked unconscious by kicks to the face during an attack at a Thai beachside resort.
The holidaymakers, including a middle-aged woman, were attacked by several men during Thai new year celebrations in Hua Hin, a coastal town about three hours south of Bangkok that is popular with older Europeans.
CCTV footage posted online shows a vicious and prolonged assault in a street, which starts when a young British man briefly touches shoulders with a Thai man carrying a bottle, who appears to push him to the ground.
The British woman takes the Thai man to the side and an argument ensues. Several Thai men punch the family until all three are on the ground. When they try to rise, they are kicked in the face and left unconscious before onlookers come to their aid.
Although the attack occurred on 13 April, the video only recently made it on to the internet. The family are believed to be still in Thailand but leaving soon.
Local media said on Thursday that police had arrested three men in their 20s and 30s who were charged. Reports said a fourth was still at large.
The victims were said to be a man in his 40s and his parents, both in their 60s.
“The perpetrators said they were drunk. They have also apologised to the family,” Police Colonel Chaiyakorn Siradecho told the Thai news website Khaosod English.
The website said the younger man had several stitches on his head, while the father had a head wound with swelling. The mother’s head injury had left her with occasional headaches, it added.
The three men were freed on bail awaiting trial for causing bodily harm.
Another local news website, Thai New Agency, posted a story on 17 April with photos of two men in the custody of Hua Hin police. The accused wore bullet-proof vests, a customary practice of Thai police when presenting suspects to the public.
During the Thai new year’s Songkarn festival, also known as the water festival, major streets are turned into a giant water fight for three days as people party continuously. The water is a symbol of cleansing and renewal.
The British embassy had launched a safety campaign to make sure tourists were aware of the dangers. Car accidents spike during the festival and revellers are often drunk – but attacks on tourists are rare.
An anonymous user posted in a Hua Hin-based online forum on 13 April, hours after the assault, giving an eyewitness account of the attack and saying he was attacked himself while trying to intervene. In the footage a man in a red and white striped shirt does step in, but is himself attacked and overwhelmed.
“By the end of the night (around 2am) as the bar’s customers were leaving, gangs of Thai youths were priming themselves to start punching westerners,” said the user, using the alias “usual suspect”, who added he had walked out of a bar in the Binta area right behind the three victims.
“The girls in the bar I was in all night waved goodbye to two elderly customers and their son, and my wife and I followed only seconds after them,” he wrote.
“Within 20/30 metres of leaving the bar the Thais were punching the 65yr old lady in the face!! The elderly gentleman was down on the floor and their son was beaten very badly.”
He said that he was left needing dental work for his own injuries. “I got severely punched and kicked for my troubles, but felt the need to protect this frail lady.”