BANGKOK, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Thai army units will wait with patience while laying siege around the perimeters of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, a buddhist temple, until its former abbot charged with money laundering is located and brought to justice, army chief Gen. Chalermchai Sittisart on Friday.
The army units, who engaged on Thursday in a stand-off with monks outside the temple in Pathum Thani province, about 25 km north of Bangkok, will continue to apply patience, the army chief said.
He said the army will not use force while contributing to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI)'s sustained mission to bring the temple's former abbot Phra Dhammajayo to justice.
The monk was charged of money laundering involving an estimated 34 million U.S. dollars, according to the army chief.
The authorities, including police, army units and the DSI, have spent over a week in desperate bid to search the temple for Phra Dhammajayo.
Thousands of Dhammajayo's followers and monks have been standing in the way of the missions for which search warrants have been issued by court.
"We've opted to waste time and we will not engage in belligerent confrontations or clashes with those inside the temple," said Gen. Chalermchai.
"Why have they been standing in the way of the legal search? Is there something they are hiding inside the temple from the authorities?" he added.
The army chief raised concerns over possibilities that a "third party" might trigger violence only to worsen the tense atmosphere in and around the temple. "We have been very concerned over a third party but we will not let untoward incidents occur," the army chief said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan earlier said that the authorities would try to get inside the temple and locate Dhammajayo though their missions might possibly take a one-year time.
Deputy DSI secretary general Suriya Singhakamon is currently in charge of the DSI missions with police backup units while deputy First Army Region commander Thammanoon Vithi is in charge of the army's supporting missions.
The DSI-led police units had recently searched part of the 800-acre compound of the temple but could not find Phra Dhammajayo. However, the search missions for him have not been called off as yet.
Suriya earlier said there has been no time frame for the missions as long as the fugitive monk remains at large.