Authorities on Wednesday charged three men from Thailand’s Deep South over an alleged plot to bomb tourist sites in the greater Bangkok area, but said the suspects were not linked to a southern insurgency.
The three, who were formally arrested on Tuesday, are the first suspects to be arrested and charged in connection with the alleged plot, the deputy police chief said.
They were picked up on Oct. 17 during security sweeps mounted in and around Bangkok after authorities had received an intelligence report warning of car-bomb plots targeting the greater metropolitan area, Police Gen. Srivarah Rangsipramanakul told reporters in Bangkok.
“Officials have evidence so that arrest warrants were approved,” Srivarah said. “For the reason why they would do it, interrogators are questioning them. Some of them admitted plotting attacks, but some did not.”
He said the suspects were charged with criminal possession of bomb-making materials and taking part in a conspiracy to commit an act of violence, among other charges.
Srivarah identified the suspects as Talmesi Totanyong, 31, Abdulrashir Suekaji, 19, and Mubari Kana, 22, saying they all hailed from Narathiwat, a province in the predominantly Muslim Deep South. A separatist insurgency has raged for decades in Thailand’s southern border region, claiming more than 6,700 lives since 2004.
After being detained in the Bangkok area in October, the three were taken to Fort Inkayuth Borihan, an army camp in the Deep South province of Pattani where they were held until Tuesday, Srivarah said.
A court in Narathiwat released them from military custody but they were transferred to police custody and flown to Bangkok, where they were charged at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) on Wednesday. Warrants for their arrest had been issued on Nov. 25, the deputy police chief said.
“I ordered the southern police operations center to further investigate the case. Some suspects gave us useful information so that we believe we can issue arrest warrants on the upper-level leader in the Deep South,” he told reporters at the CSD.
But he denied that the alleged bomb plot targeting the greater Bangkok area was connected to the insurgency.
“All three came from the southern provinces and were prepared to carry out an attack in Bangkok and surrounding areas, but we believe they are not separatists,” Reuters quoted the deputy police chief as saying. “They planned to target tourist sites.”
Srivarah gave no other details.
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