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British Tourist Shot Dead At Thailand Full Moon New Year's Eve Party

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A British tourist has been shot dead at a New Year's Eve party in Thailand after being caught in the crossfire between local gangs, it has been reported.

Stephen Ashton 22-year-old was said to have been killed as he danced with friends at a beach bar on the island of Koh Phangan.

The shooting took place at the Zoom Bar on Haad Rin Beach.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of committing the crime. Ekkapan Kaewkla, 26, was reportedly found in possession of a homemade gun, according to the Bangkok Post.

He is thought to have been caught in the crossfire when a fight erupted between two local gangs.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Thailand on New Year's Eve and we are providing consular assistance to the family."

Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramomthong, chief of Koh Phangan station, told the Bangkok Post that Mr Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists at the 2013 countdown party at a pub and restaurant called the Zoom Bar when he was shot shortly after 4am.

Mr Ashton was visiting the island with four or five friends and was staying at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin.

Tributes have been paid on social networking sites as friends expressed their shock at hearing the news.

Aaron Kelly wrote on Facebook: "Horrible news. Be good up there mate."

Robbie-Cameron Gray took to Mr Ashton's Facebook page to express his grief and posted a photograph of the two of them as young boys.

He said: "Don't want to believe it. Still got photos of us on my wall from football and school. Will miss you mate."

Sophie Harwin, a graphics editor from Surrey, spent New Year's Eve nearby but had left the area by the time the shooting occurred.

"I just met someone who said loads of people were trying to save him. Very sad."

She added: "I didn't go near Zoom Bar. Not sure where it is on the beach. The place was packed."

Neighbour Dawn Mason, 48, described Mr Ashton as a "very normal, likeable young man".

His family moved to the upmarket area of Purley, south London, about three years ago, she said.

"They've always been very nice neighbours.

"If Stephen or his sister Emily had parties, they'd always be at the house with their parents so they knew where they were.

"I went to the house today and the family just seem in complete shock."

Mr Ashton's mother, Diane, is flying back to the UK from a skiing trip following news of her son's death, Ms Mason said.

Mr Ashton's family said they were too distraught to speak.

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