Authorities issued arrest warrants Monday for two suspects in twin attacks that killed 15 people in Thailand’s insurgency-hit Deep South last week, while announcing they had detained seven people for questioning.
In court filings in Yala province seeking the warrants based on DNA evidence, investigators allege that the pair were present at one of the two attack sites on Nov. 5, said police Lt. Gen. Ronnasil Phusara, the head of Provincial Police Region 9.
“Both of them have several warrants issued against them in various cases including burning a tour bus two years ago,” the commander told reporters, adding that those warrants were used to make the DNA link.
While police announced that they were looking to charge the two suspects, six other men have been detained for questioning and remain in custody. None have been charged and are not facing arrest warrants, Ronnasil said.
A seventh man, whose arrest was announced last week, was released after being questioned without any charges being filed against him, according to police.
Last week’s attacks were the result of cooperation between two insurgent cells in Yala and neighboring Pattani province, Thai government officials alleged, adding that three brothers led the Pattani cell involved in the Nov. 5 bloodshed.
The “brothers used to live in Kuanran village but after the security unit issued an arrest warrant, they moved somewhere else. While their parents also moved to another area, claiming they want to do agriculture. We don’t know where they all are,” the village headman in Kuanran, Suriya Bosu, told BenarNews.
But a Pattani man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told BenarNews that the brothers were not capable of leading attacks.
The Nov. 5 ambushes that killed 15 – a mix of police officers, village defense volunteers and civilians – were the deadliest since 2004 in the Deep South, an area that borders Malaysia and encompasses Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces as well as four districts in Songkhla.
Nearly 7,000 people have died in violence in the mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking region since the separatist insurgency reignited 15 years ago.
On Friday, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha authorized security forces to impose curfews in nine districts of the Deep South following the attacks in Yala three days earlier.