Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET on 2019-03-10
Several small bombs exploded in the Deep South and in two nearby provinces beginning late Saturday, officials said Sunday, the day insurgents marked the 110th anniversary of a treaty where Thailand returned parts of its far south to Britain.
Attackers successfully detonated bombs at public places in Pakpayoon district and Maung district of Pattalung province, followed by two explosions at Satun’s Maung district police station, police said, adding no one was injured by the blasts. The bombs were set off two weeks before junta-ruled Thailand was scheduled to hold its first general election since the military seized power through a coup five years ago.
Both provinces are adjacent to the northern section of the Deep South, where a bomb was defused in Rue Soh, a district in Narathiwat, along with another in Yala’s Bannang Sata district, officials said.
“There were about eight bomb explosions while some others did not explode since Saturday evening,” said Pol. Lt. Col. Samroeng Machoo, the chief of Pakpayoon police station in Pattalung. “The latest bomb targeting a rail track at Trai Pon village this afternoon was removed and destroyed.”
Satun governor Jaruwat Kliangklao said investigators have not determined if the one group is responsible for the bombings.
“Security officials are trying to handle this matter,” he told reporters.
After the attacks, Col. Pramote Prom-in, military spokesman in the Deep South, said authorities could not immediately determine the cause.
“But we do not rule out insurgents’ involvement, political conflict in the elections or underground gangsters – human traffickers and drug dealers who suffered from suppression,” Pramote said.
He added that a bomb-rigged motorcycle used in an attack was stolen from Saba Yoi in Songkhla province, one of 37 districts in the conflict zone in the Deep South, late last year.
“We believe they are the same group who planned and coordinated attacks to undermine the image and the trust in the government,” Pramote said, adding there were injuries as a result of the explosion.
A defense ministry spokesman said Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy prime minister for security affairs, will fly to the south to oversee the investigation.
In recent years, human rights activists have condemned violence in the Deep South that has killed about 7,000 people since insurgents reignited their separatist campaign in January 2004.
On Friday, a military spokesman said security officials in Deep South have been on full alert in reaction to graffiti reading “Patani 110,” in reference to the anniversary of the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty began appearing in the insurgency-hit region.
Siam, the former name of Thailand, signed a treaty with Britain, which included a transfer to the British government all rights of protection, administration and control over the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis, and adjacent islands.
The Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its embassy in Bangkok, issued a statement advising citizens traveling to or residing in Thailand to “remain vigilant and pay close attention to personal safety at all times.”