2 suspects arrested after car bombing in Thai Deep South

Mariyam Ahmad
Pattani, Thailand
2 suspects arrested after car bombing in Thai Deep South A police officer inspects the scene in the wake of a car-bomb explosion in front of the police flats at the Bannang Sata Police Station in Yala, a province in Thailand’s Deep South, June 30, 2024.
Handout/Bannang Sata Police Station

Two men including an engineer employed by a local government agency were in custody Monday as suspects in a car-bombing that killed a school teacher in Thailand’s troubled Deep South on Sunday, officials said. 

The explosion in front of a housing complex for police officers in Bannang Sata, a district of Yala province, left a female civilian dead and injured 34 other people, according to authorities. It also damaged nearby cars, motorcycles, and utility poles.

The two who were taken into custody are a 27-year-old assistant civil who works engineer working for the Sub-District Administrative Organization (SAO) in Than To, another district in Yala, and a 45-year-old aluminum worker, authorities said. BenarNews is withholding their names because they had not yet been charged on Monday.

“[The engineer, suspect No. 1] appeared nervous during questioning. [Suspect No. 2] was the last person to leave the SAO premises and had called [the other suspect] to inquire about the vehicle keys around 4 p.m.,” Col. Ekwarit Chobchuphon, spokesman for ISOC-4, the regional office of the Internal Security Operations Command, said in a statement. 


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The vehicle used in the bombing belonged to the SAO office and was reported stolen on the day before the attack, officials said. Authorities have not yet pinpointed a motive, although separatist insurgents who operate throughout Thailand’s heavily militarized southern border region are known for carrying out roadside bombings and rigging cars and motorcycles with bombs. 

The suspects were taken to an interrogation center at the 41st Ranger Forces Regiment in Raman, another district in the province. Authorities also revealed that the wife of the arrested engineer is a fugitive in a separate criminal case, but they did not divulge more information.

“The car, a blue four-door Toyota, was not modified externally but was fitted with an improvised explosive device in a 16-kg gas cylinder. The bomb contained cut steel bars and explosives, weighing over 80 kg in total, along with two gallons of fuel. It was detonated by a timer,” said Police Lt.-Gen. Piyawat Chalermsi, commander for Provincial Police Region 9, confirming that the Toyota belonged to the Than So SAO.

The 34 people who were hurt in the attack sustained non-life threatening injuries. The lone fatality was identified as Rokiyoh Sarana, a 45-year-old teacher at a local Islamic school. She was killed when the bomb went off as she drove by while on an errand to buy food for her students, officials said.  

Rokiyah was a married mother of three children, and her family would receive assistance and financial support, said Ramadan Hayeeawae, assistant secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center (SBPAC). The compensation would include educational support for the three children through university and a financial package of 500,000 baht (U.S. $14,000).

Yala and three neighboring provinces in the predominantly Malay Muslim border region next-door to Malaysia have been home to a decades-old separatist rebellion.

Since the insurgency reignited 20 years ago, there have been reports of more than 22,200 violent incidents in the region through 2023 that resulted in more than 7,540 deaths and 14,000 injuries, according to data from Deep South Watch, a local think-tank.

Sunday’s attack marks the ninth car bombing targeting police residential areas in Thailand’s southern border provinces since 2017. 

The previous incident occurred on Nov. 22, 2022, at the Muang Narathiwat Police Station flats, killing one officer and injuring 37 people in neighboring Narathiwat province.

Violence linked to the insurgency has persisted despite Malaysia-brokered direct peace talks that began in 2020 between Thailand and Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the largest and most powerful among the southern rebel groups and factions.


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