Huge explosion from truck bomb injures dozens in Deep South

Matahari Ismail and Mariyam Ahmad
2022.11.22
Narathiwat and Pattani, Thailand
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Huge explosion from truck bomb injures dozens in Deep South Firefighters extinguish a blaze while police bomb-squad personnel inspect the scene after a truck bomb exploded at an apartment building housing police in Narathiwat, southern Thailand, Nov. 22, 2022.
BenarNews

A truck-bomb explosion outside apartments housing police killed a policeman and injured more than 30 other people in Thailand’s troubled Deep South on Tuesday, including a 1-year-old, authorities said. 

At least two suspects were caught on closed-circuit cameras moments before the bomb-rigged pickup truck exploded near the building that houses 50 police officers and their families in Mueang Narathiwat, a district of Narathiwat province, the chief of the provincial police station said.

“The man in a gray-collar shirt with a handgun in his waist holster got out of a pickup truck and another man on a motorcycle gave him a lift and fled the scene,” said police Col. Jeffrey Salaimankul, chief of the Narathiwat station.

The blast was the biggest explosion to rock the Deep South after a series of firebomb and arson attacks last week that Thai officials blamed on separatist rebels in the border region.

Police identified the dead Narathiwat station officer as Capt. Suthirak Pantaniya. At least 31 people who were injured in Tuesday’s explosion were treated at Narathiwat Hospital, officials said, adding that their injuries were non-life threatening.

About 10 fire trucks along with a bomb squad and rescue workers rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze, inspect the site and take the injured to the hospital, police said.

Members of the bomb squad found remnants of a 50-kilo (110-pound) homemade bomb in the wreckage of the truck, police said, adding that debris flew as far as 200 meters (656 feet) from the blast site.

Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the most powerful of armed separatist groups in the Deep South, declined to comment on the attack Tuesday. The secretive organization is known for not claiming responsibility for attacks.

A security official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to reporters told BenarNews that the bombing followed the killing of an insurgent in Nong Chik, a district in another Deep South’s province of Pattani, two weeks ago.

A regional military command spokesman, meanwhile, said the bombing matched a pattern.

“As everyone knows the cause. The perpetrators always try to conduct violence like other cases involving carjacking and car bombing,” said Col. Kiatisak Neewong, spokesman for the military’s ISOC-4 in the Deep South.  

Since a separatist insurgency reignited in the Deep South in January 2004, at least 7,344 people have been killed and 13,641 injured in violence across the mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking border region, according to data updated through March 2022 by Deep South Watch, a local think-tank.

The region encompasses Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala provinces, and four districts of Songkhla province.

Thai officials and BRN began Malaysia-brokered peace negotiations in early 2020 – following years of talks between the government and MARA Patani, an umbrella group that brought together Deep South insurgent groups, including BRN.

The sixth face-to-face negotiation scheduled for this month has been delayed because of the Malaysian general election last weekend, according to negotiators for both sides.

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