Thailand Bombings: Police Establish Wider Link to Deep South

BenarNews staff
160822-TH-chakthip-800.jpg Police Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda tells reporters that as many as 20 people are suspected of having roles in a series of bombing and arson attacks earlier this month, Aug. 22, 2016.

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.


Meanwhile in the Deep South, authorities launched a manhunt for Ahama Lengha, a native of Narathiwat province, who was the subject of an arrest warrant last week. At the time, Deputy National Police Chief Gen. Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said that evidence from the scene of an attempted bombing in Phuket on Aug. 10 matched DNA from the suspect.

A bomb planted at Patong Beach in Phuket did not go off, but police believe that Ahama also participated in the wider plot that resulted in the 11 bomb attacks and five arson attacks over the next two days.

On Monday, a security source in Narathiwat told BenarNews that Ahama, who has a criminal record dating to 2008, worked at a fertilizer factory in Malaysia, about 15 km (9 miles) from Thailand’s southern border.

Two days earlier, security forces in the Deep South cited martial law and an emergency decree as they searched Natohdul Islahiyah Pondok, an Islamic high school in Pattani province’s Sai Buri district, looking for 24-year-old Madsaifudin Lomang, police said.

A security force official, who asked not to be named, told BenarNews that residents from the Pattani and Narathiwat had been linked to the attacks, but that some had fled to Malaysia.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.