Bombings in Southern Thailand injure nine security personnel
A series of powerful blasts rocked the restive southernmost provinces during the weekend, injuring nine security personnel, while two village defence volunteers were shot in drive-by attacks. Four bombs went off, one yesterday and three Saturday, all targeting soldiers or police.
Two members of a special unit of engineers were wounded when a bomb exploded in a garbage bin at a construction site in Yala yesterday. The bomb was triggered by cellphone and contained slivers of metal, weighing more than 10 kilograms.
The troops were helping to build the Ban Keroh school in Raman district when the bomb went off. A police spokesman said the device had been strategically placed to cause maximum devastation, and that the soldiers were lucky to be alive. “Normally, the soldiers park their vehicle near the bin,” said Pol Lt-Col Sukhom Suchanbutr. “Luckily, they didn’t on this occasion, otherwise, this would have been more serious.” The school is one of a number of initiatives to improve relations between the military and local people.
In Narathiwat, seven policemen were wounded Saturday in a series bombings and a gunfight after they were lured into a village in Rangae, one of the region’s most dangerous districts. A bomb was detonated as they arrived in Ban Tanyong Limoh after hearing reports of a shooting.
A 10-minute gunfight ensued, followed by a second blast, which injured all seven policemen. The attackers were unharmed and fled.
A third bomb exploded in the next village, although no one was injured, while a bomb disposal team found two unexploded devices in Sungai Padi. They failed to go off because the signal had been cut after the first blast.
All the bombs were triggered by cellphones, suggesting that government measures to prevent bombers from using SIM cards were proving unsuccessful. Cellphone users in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani were required last year to register their SIM cards so calls triggering bombs could be tracked, but the method is still widely used by militant groups.
Acting Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit yesterday urged security forces to be on the alert for more such attacks. “I have warned officials stationed in the southernmost provinces that these attacks will occur as long as there is instability in the region,” he said, adding that he would try to visit the deep South once or twice every month.
He said attacks were being launched from both inside and outside Thailand, with insurgents crossing into Malaysia to evade arrest.
Meanwhile, a defense volunteer was killed and another injured in separate hit-and-run shootings while they rode their motorcycles along quiet roads in Pattani, police said yesterday. Sarawuth Godhan, 38, was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle in Nong Chik yesterday morning, while 37-year-old Suteng Meesa was left with severe injuries after gunmen in a pickup truck opened fire on him in Muang district Saturday.
For a second day, leaflets were found in Yala urging local Muslims to help oust government “invaders” from the region. They featured cartoons showing Muslims being shot dead or held at gunpoint by troops and police.
More than 30,000 security personnel have been deployed to restore peace after more than two years of unrest in the largely Malay-Muslim region, which became part of Thailand in 1902.
Posted by: ryuge