Updated at 5:39 P.M. ET on 2019-05-28
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha and people in Thailand’s troubled Deep South condemned a bombing that killed two civilians, including a 14-year-old boy, and wounded 23 others at a Pattani province market as locals in the mainly Muslim border region were shopping for Ramadan on Monday.
Authorities suspect that separatist insurgents were behind the attack, which occurred before nightfall at the Bo Thong market in Pattani’s Nong Chik district. Four of the wounded were soldiers, officials said.
The bombers intended to harm a crowd of shoppers who were buying food with which to break their daily fast during the Islamic holy month, officials said, alleging that the act was also done to retaliate for the killing of a rebel commander by government security forces earlier on Monday.
In Bangkok on Tuesday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha offered condolences through his spokesman to the families of the two victims.
“[The attack] is severe and inhumane,” said deputy government spokesman Lt. Gen. Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak. “It happened in Ramadan, the time to do good deeds.”
The victims of the marketplace attack were identified as Edil Fitri Yako, 14, and Saripah Ayosae, 35.
The teenager’s older sister spoke to BenarNews during a Monday night funeral.
“It's painful to see the kid come back home lifeless,” said his sister, who identified herself as Aslina.
“I urge the attackers to think for a second about how painful it is for those who lost loved ones,” she added. “I don’t know what you want out of this violence.”
Monday’s explosion occurred when attackers detonated a motorcycle they had rigged with a homemade bomb and left at the Bo Thong market, police said.
Col. Thanawee Suwanarat, spokesman for the army’s regional internal security command (ISOC-4), who spoke at the funeral service for Edil, said insurgents launched the attack to avenge the killing in nearby Yala province of an insurgent commander, Abdulloh Lateh, hours earlier.
“Because of the insurgent loss, they … [bombed] the Bo Thong marketplace where brothers and sisters came to shop for food,” Thanawee told the gathering of mourners.
Monday’s violence occurred a day after two Thai marines were shot dead while riding a motorcycle to their base in Bacho, a district of Narathiwat, another province in the Deep South, authorities said.
Kasturi Mahkota, who sits on a panel representing southern rebel groups and factions in Malaysia-brokered peace talks with Thailand’s government, called for an investigation of the incident.
“We would be deeply saddened if the act was carried out by the fighters, as that would damage the image and reputation of the fighters,” Kasturi, who represents the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), told BenarNews. "We strongly condemn this atrocity and demand that the government conduct a transparent and fair process of investigation to bring the perpetrator to justice as soon as possible."
About 7,000 people have been killed in violence in Thailand’s Malay-speaking southern border region since the insurgency reignited 15 years ago, according to Deep South Watch, a local think-tank group.
Matahari Ismail in Narathiwat, Thailand contributed to this report.