As many as 20 people suspected of involvement in bomb and arson attacks at tourist hotspots across southern Thailand on Aug. 11 and 12 come from its insurgency-wracked Deep South, the national police chief said Monday.
The revelation by Police Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda at a news conference in Bangkok was the first time that Thai authorities established a broader link between the restive region and 11 bomb attacks in seven provinces in the country’s upper south that killed four and injured dozens. Last week, Thai authorities issued an arrest warrant for a man from the Deep South, who is wanted in connection with those attacks.
However, in addition to not ruling out the possibility that southern separatists could be trying to expand their armed rebellion north of the confines of the predominantly Muslim Deep South, Chakthip said investigators were still looking at other possible motives for the bombings and arson attacks farther north.
Those responsible for them could also include people belonging to a movement opposed to this month’s constitutional referendum, in which a majority of Thais voted for a junta-backed draft charter, the police chief said. A majority of at least 60 percent in the three provinces that make up most of the Deep South voted against the charter.
The 20 suspects represent a mix of old hands from the Deep South and people from the region who have no criminal background, Chaktip said.
“Officials can identify some perpetrators in many attack scenes because some of them are on arrest warrants in the Deep South. But many of them are newbies without criminal records,” he told reporters.
“But whether the old hands led the attacks or not, and which group carried out the attacks, we cannot disclose now. No one claimed responsibilities, be they BRN or Wadah,” he said, referring to Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main rebel group in the Deep South, and Wadah, a group aligned with political parties linked to former prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra.
Chakthip did not identify the 20 suspects.
“The assailants must have been trained in Pondok [Islamic high schools] and from abroad. They have behaved differently than general Muslims and dressed up like tourists when they carried out the attacks,” Chakthip said.
Full story: BenarNews
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