Man Confesses to Role in Tourist Area Bombings: Thai Police

BenarNews Staff
Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Thailand
161102-TH-bomb-1000 An injured woman lies on a footpath after a bomb blast in Hua Hin, Thailand, Aug. 12, 2016.
Somchai Kwankijswet/BenarNews

Thailand’s deputy police chief said Wednesday that a suspect from the Deep South had confessed during interrogation to having taken part in a string of coordinated bomb attacks at southern tourist hotspots in mid-August.

Muhammad Muhi, a resident of Pattani province, told interrogators that he planted bombs in Phuket on Aug. 10, according to Deputy Police Chief Gen. Srivarah Rungsibrahmanakul.

Srivarah spoke to reporters at a youth detention center in the southern province of Nakhon Sri Thammarat, where 21-year-old Muhi is being held.

“Police investigators from Phuket interrogated him while in custody at the youth center, in the presence of Corrections Department officials, and he confessed to having a hand in three bomb cases,” Srivarah said.

Among 11 coordinated bombings that killed four people and injured more than 30 in seven provinces on Aug. 11 and 12, two of the bombs went off in Phuket, injuring one person.

On Aug. 10, police found two other bombs at markets in Phuket but were able to diffuse them, officials said in the aftermath of the attacks. They took place days after Thailand staged a referendum in which a majority voted for a controversial constitution backed by the military government.

Muhi is one of only two suspects that have been arrested thus far in connection with the bombings in Phuket, Hua Hin and five other southern provinces, and a series of arson attacks in some of those provinces at around the same time.

The second suspect is Hakim Doloh, 30, who was arrested for allegedly setting fire in a store in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province. Hakim is in custody at Thung Song prison in Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

To date, Thai authorities have issued arrest warrants for at least 11 suspects wanted in connection with the attacks.

These provinces lie outside the boundaries of the insurgency-stricken Deep South, but authorities have said that many of the suspects come from that region. However, Thai officials have not said whether the suspects are linked to separatist insurgents in the Muslim majority, Malay-speaking Deep South.

In September, a member of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) – the largest armed separatist group in the region – claimed to BenarNews that his combat unit had carried out the attacks on Aug. 11 and 12, and other recent bombings farther south.

“We claim that the attack in Tak Bai district was the act of our operation, as well as the train bombing and those attacks in the seven upper southern provinces too,” said the leader of a BRN combat unit known as Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), who asked not to be named.

Demands for transparency

On Wednesday, a human rights activist voiced concern about whether Muhi had received proper legal counsel during his time in custody.

“We are concerned that Muhi has no access to suspect’s rights, such as visits by relatives and a trusted lawyer. As per reports, the police came with their own lawyer, who, perhaps, cannot not be trusted by the suspect,” Anchana Heemmina, president of the Hearty Support Group, told Benar News.

Anchana, who was sued by the military for accusing soldiers of torturing suspected Dep South insurgents, said she wanted the police to handle Muhi’s case with transparency “because the police’s proper handling is an indicator of the overall judicial system’s credibility.”


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