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15 June 2006

Wave of bomb blasts kills two, wounds 21 in Thai south

YALA, Thailand : Separatist Islamic militants in southern Thailand have bombed more than 40 police and government targets, killing at least two people and wounding 21.

The attacks, using crudely made, small and remote-controlled devices, shattered the relative calm of recent days as mainly Buddhist Thailand united to celebrate King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60-year reign.

The 30-minute series of blasts rocked the mainly Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat near the Malaysian border and six security personnel were among the injured, police said.

"Militants are likely to have coordinated the attacks and planned them in advance because the bombs went off between 07:45 and 8:15 am (0045-0115 GMT)," said Colonel Sommai Phutthakun, deputy police commander in Narathiwat.

"They wanted to show their power."

Police had arrested four suspects who were being interrogated, said Lieutenant General Adul Seangsingkaoe, police chief for Thailand's far south.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra blamed police for failing to prevent the attacks despite having intelligence that separatist militants would strike.

"Authorities knew that there would be attacks today, but they did not pay enough attention, which resulted in the loss of life," he said.

Thai authorities were in close contact with Malaysian officials, he said.

Interior Minister Kongsak Vantana, meanwhile, said the militants had made the bombs outside Thailand, without specifying the country, adding that "it's difficult to find bomb-making materials here."

"The militants wanted to stage a show of force and signal that they can still mount attacks," he said on national television. "The bombs caused minimal losses because they were low-impact bombs."

The attacks appeared aimed at sending a message to the government rather than to hurt large numbers of people, said one observer, Sunai Phasuk of the group Human Rights Watch.

"Clearly it is a warning to the authorities that militants are capable of carrying out simultaneous, well-coordinated attacks," he said.

Analyst Francesca Lawe-Davies of the International Crisis Group agreed: "It's a show of strength. It's clearly been perpetrated by separatist groups showing that they are still strong and capable of these coordinated attacks."

Separatist violence has simmered in the south since Thailand annexed an independent sultanate there a century ago.

An insurgency erupted again in early 2004, claiming more than 1,300 lives since.

In Thursday's attacks 16 blasts in Pattani killed two people in separate explosions and wounded 14 more, two seriously, police said.

In Narathiwat 17 bombs hit, wounding five marines.

And in Yala, eight attacks targeted police posts, nearby tea shops and a border patrol truck, wounding two people including a police officer.

The attacks followed Tuesday's killings of two Buddhists, a female local government official and a shop owner, in Pattani.

The violence came at the end of lavish celebrations for the king, the world's longest-reigning monarch who is revered by his people as a source of moral guidance.

More than one million Thais came to hear his address last Friday in which he called for national unity, and mass events were held to honour the monarch across the country including in the south.

But residents of the troubled south have been less happy with the national government, accusing it of Buddhist prejudice and the repression of their language, script and religious practices.

Earlier this month the independent National Reconciliation Commission recommended greater local government participation in the south and said officials should use the Malay language commonly spoken there.

Thaksin said on Thursday he planned to visit the region soon, once foreign royalty who came for the king's Diamond Jubilee left Thailand.

He rejected claims that his crackdown and heavy-handedness in the south had caused the long-simmering insurgency to flare up.

"The government has to implement two policies -- arrest the suspects and reach a better understanding with the local residents," Thaksin said.

- AFP/ms

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Time is GMT + 8 hours

Posted: 16 June 2006 1215 hrs

Seven more bombs hit Thai south

NARATHIWAT, Thailand : At least seven more bombs hit the Thai south early Friday, a day after a wave of explosions ripped through the insurgency-plagued and mainly Muslim region, police said.

In the worst attack, explosives hidden under a government pick-up truck went off in a crowded market in Ka Bang, Yala province, wounding the deputy district chief driving the car, his wife and three police officers.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expressed concern and said he had left his deputy, Justice Minister Chidchai Vanasathidya, in charge of dealing with the insurgency's latest flare-up that killed two and wounded 24 Thursday.

"Today Chidchai will call a meeting and adjust security plans," said Thaksin before leaving for a three-day visit to Kazakhstan.

In Friday's other six bombings, small improvised devices hidden in garbage bins and restrooms hit railway stations and other targets in the Yala and Narathiwat provinces but injured no-one, police said.

Southern regional police raised the number of Thursday's attacks against police posts and cars, government offices, tea shops and other businesses to 65 -- with 26 each in Pattani and Narathiwat and 13 in Yala.

The wave of attacks started just days after mainly Buddhist Thailand wrapped up major festivities to celebrate the 60th year on the throne of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 78, who is deeply revered in his country.

Separatist violence has simmered in the south since Thailand annexed an independent ethnic Malay sultanate there a century ago. Insurgencies erupted in the 1970s and again in early 2004, claiming more than 1,300 lives since.

Widely held grievances in the south have focused on Thai repression of the local language, script and religious practices.

A majority of southern voters boycotted national elections in April, and breakaway members of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party plan to register two new Islamic parties ahead of polls set for mid-October, reports have said.

Thaksin, a controversial premier accused of abuse of power and corruption as well as heavy-handedness in dealing with the south, has rejected claims that his policies worsened the insurgency there.

The militants have consistently failed to claim responsibility for attacks, fuelling speculation over exactly who is behind the violence, including regular drive-by shootings of Buddhist officials, monks and teachers.

Analysts are divided on whether the insurgency is mainly ethnically and culturally driven, or whether the rebels have extensive ties with Islamist extremists elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.

- AFP /ct

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The Bangkok Post News

http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/16Jun2006_news01.php

Fifty bombs kill three in South

Police examine the wreckage of a car that exploded in front of the provincial hall in Pattani as four security volunteers were inspecting the vehicle. — SUMETH PRANPHET

Biggest challenge to state power in years

POST REPORTERS

Militants set off 50 bombs in the three southernmost provinces yesterday, killing at least three people and injuring scores of state workers and civilians in one of the biggest challenges to state authority in several years.

There were 12 bombs in Yala, 18 in Pattani and 20 in Narathiwat.

The government believes the morning blasts, in 29 places, were intended as a display of force and to send a message that insurgents could hit both government offices and private property.

Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra chided security authorities for failing to prevent the wave of explosions. "Prevention measures are not good enough," he said in northern Chiang Mai province.

According to a security source, intelligence reports had warned about possible attacks on June 15, which marked the anniversary of the creation of the insurgent's so-called "free Pattani state."

Key leaders of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) Coordinate and Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo), including Masae Useng, who has a five-million-baht bounty on his head, met last month to evaluate the situation, according to the reports. They ordered young militants to step up attacks with a major operation scheduled on that day.

According to the source, the insurgent groups smuggled explosives and other weapons into Narathiwat's Tak Bai district with plans to ambush security teams providing protection for teachers, key government offices and public meeting places.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathit believed the attacks were timed to mark the establishment of the "free Pattani state".

"They want to stage a show of force," said Pol Gen Chidchai, who arrived in Yala just as the blasts rocked the province.

Army chief Sonthi Boonyarataglin said a lack of trust and confidence in state authorities continued to impede attempts to solve the southern unrest.

Chidchai: Intended as display of force

"We need to build up awareness among local people and urge them to act as our ears and eyes," he said.

The army would discuss security issues in the deep South today.

An army source said Gen Sonthi had proposed the army take over security in the region and promised results in a year. However, his proposal was opposed by Pol Gen Chidchai, said the source.

Security measures were stepped up across the restive region, including neighbouring Songkhla, following the bomb attacks yesterday. Schools cancelled classes or sent students home early.

The bombs were planted inside state offices including the toilets of district offices and a public library, and private property including convenience stores and food shops.

All three fatalities were reported in Pattani.

A car bomb outside the Pattani provincial hall killed a security volunteer and wounded three others.

They were inspecting a Honda sedan which was about to enter the compound when the bomb went off. The driver was not injured.

The other fatal blast occurred at a local eatery in Khok Pho district, about 100 metres from Khok Pho police station.

Suriya Suwanmanee, vice-chairman of a tambon administrative organisation, and Mada-oh Khami were killed in the explosion that injured eight others.

Pol Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, chief of Police Region 9, said the bombs were not powerful but the attacks were well-planned. Four people were summoned for questioning, he said.

Police defused a two-kilogramme bomb planted under a car in Yala's Muang district yesterday afternoon.

The bomb disposal squad cut off mobile phone signals in the area as soon as they were tipped off, police said.

The bombs went off just over a week after the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) handed in its report to the government on solving southern woes.

The NRC recommended that an unarmed peace-keeping force in the troubled provinces be created as a short-term measure.

As a long-term solution, it called for a new administrative body to oversee the restive provinces as a way to mediate conflicts and give residents a greater voice in local government decisions.

Voravit Baru, vice-rector of Pattani-based Prince of Songkla University and member of the NRC, criticised the government for failing to prevent the attacks, saying intelligence on possible bomb attacks had been leaked.

"What's happening to the security forces? Many of the bombings took place in government buildings," he said.

The government should abolish the Executive Decree on Administration in Emergency Situations in the deep South.

He said the legislation gave excessive power to authorities to search houses and arrest suspects without strong evidence, which upset local people.

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June 15:

Wave of bomb blasts kills two, wounds 21 in Thai south :o

June 16:

Seven more bombs hit Thai south :D:D

June 17:

Fifty bombs kill three in South :D:D:D

What the heck is going on?

LaoPo

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The Bangkok Post News

17 Jun 06

Six arrested after new wave of blasts

Seven hurt in at least a dozen explosions

Chidchai: Bombs were locally made

POST REPORTERS

An Indonesian and five Thais were arrested yesterday in connection with a string of bomb blasts in the deep South, as militants exploded more bombs targeted mainly at railway stations on the second day of multiple attacks.

Seven people were injured in at least a dozen explosions, which mostly took place yesterday morning in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. They came one day after the three southenmost provinces were hit by 50 bombs, many of them at government offices.

The bombings are the most serious coordinated insurgent attacks in many years. Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Wannasathit flew to the deep South on Thursday to get first-hand information before returning to Bangkok yesterday to chair a meeting of security agencies to revamp security tactics.

The meeting was joined by national police chief Gen Kowit Wattana, chief of Police Region 9 Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew and caretaker Deputy Interior Minister Sermsak Pongpanit.

The meeting agreed to divide the deep South into three zones according to the degree of influence the insurgents have over the people and geography.

The insurgents wield strong influence in more than 200 out of 1,600 villages in the deep South. These areas need to be "taken back", said Mr Sermsak.

Other areas will require psychological warfare to win over the hearts and minds of local people although authorities will be told to be careful when launching anti-insurgent strategies in those areas, he said.

The government will also install more surveillance cameras. At present, the cameras operate in only 10 out of more than 30 district offices.

Pol Gen Chidchai denied reports the explosives used in the last two days were smuggled in from a neighbouring country. The bombs were made locally, he said.

Several rapid-deployment mobile units were being dispatched. All battalions were ordered to look out for more surprise attacks, according to army commander-in-chief Gen Sonthi Boonyarataglin.

Yesterday police and soldiers stormed tambon Bo-ngoh in Narathiwat's Rangae district and captured Indonesian Sabri bin Emaeruding, 37, with bomb-making equipment.

Four Thai men, wanted on warrants for involvement in the southern unrest possibly linked to the latest multiple blasts, were arrested by a 100-strong combined force in the same district.

Also arrested was Paosi Nisaro, owner of the house the four stayed in.

The four _ Muhammadsagiya Nisarae, 38, Awae Nisarae, 51, Mamu Malee, 46, and Yawaree Wama, 53 _ were believed to hold confidential information on separatist units which are active in the district and nearby areas.

The deep South woke up to a second day of violence as bomb explosions rocked the region.

Around 5am, the first bomb was defused at a ticket counter at Narathiwat's ferry port connecting Tak Bai district with Malaysia's Kelantan state.

Another bomb planted in a toilet in the Sungai Kolok district office was defused after an official alerted disposal experts.

There were no injuries in subsequent explosions outside Sungai Kolok and Tanyongmat railway stations and a petrol station.

Three men, however, were injured after a bomb exploded under their table in a restaurant which doubles as a karaoke bar in Tak Bai district.

Pattani railway station was the sole bomb target in the province. A powerful TNT bomb went off in the men's toilet, ripping through the ceiling and windows. No one was hurt.

In nearby Yala, injuries were reported after a bomb went off in a car belonging to Kabang district assistant chief Mustorfah Masa-a, 34.

The blast wounded Mr Mustorfah and his wife Paweena.

Mr Mustorfah was driving to work when the bomb exploded.

The blast wrecked the car and shrapnel wounded two patrol officials on duty nearby.

Other bombs were left in the ceiling of a men's toilet at Yala railway station and in front of Raman railway station.

The two bombs were detonated, causing some damage.

Pol Gen Chidchai said the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) insurgent group was behind the recent attacks.

Authorities have a list of its 500 members, plus bomb makers, he said.

A security source said separatists have stockpiled between 100-200 bombs which they would use to wreak more havoc.

The source also revealed a plan by the militants to kidnap government officials and hold them hostage to demand the release of 200 fellow insurgents arrested by authorities.

The insurgents were also likely to demand cancellation of the emergency decree and withdrawal of government soldiers from Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, according to the source.

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17 Jun 06

Bomb blast kills one, wounds two in Thai south

YALA, Thailand - A bomb blast in a hotel karaoke bar killed one man and wounded two women in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south late Saturday in the latest of over 70 blasts there in three days, police said.

The explosive triggered by a digital watch tore apart the unidentified man and seriously wounded two female staff aged 33 and 38 in a private room of the Yala Rama Hotel bar in Yala city, they said.

The attack followed the pattern of the bombings launched Thursday by suspected Islamic militants, which killed two other people and wounded over 30, said Major General Vorapong Chewpreecha of the Central Investigation Bureau.

Thai police Friday arrested six suspects including an Indonesian man.

Separatist violence has simmered in the south since Thailand annexed an ethnic Malay sultanate there a century ago, and a bloody insurgency that resumed in early 2004 has claimed more than 1,300 lives since.

- AFP /ls

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The Bangkok Post News

18 Jun 06

Drug dealer behind southern bomb blasts

Bomb kills woman in karaoke lounge

By Post reporters

A major drug dealer is behind the multiple blasts in the deep South as intelligence reports revealed separatists have pooled 50 million baht under a plan to launch even more deadlier attacks before the end of the year.

The Central Investigation Bureau has identified Paosi Nisare, reported to be owner of the house which sheltered other suspects, as a major drug trader in Rangae district of Narathiwat.

Paosi is reportedly the ringleader controlling other suspects involved in the blasts on Thursday and Friday.

They were nabbed together in Rangae on Friday.

Police are examining guns and cash seized from the house to determine if they have been used to perpetrate insurgent attacks.

Another insurgent headman, the notorious Masae Useng, is also believed to have ordered the hardline Permudor militants to plant the more than 60 bombs which went off this week, according to an intelligence source.

Two people died and at least seven were injured, one of them an assistant district chief, in the blasts.

Authorities are now keeping a close watch on owners of religious schools allegedly providing a training ground for militants.

A southern security source said it has received a report of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) Coordinate on their attack on key government and law enforcement agencies in the far South.

The source said they had set their sights on prime targets such as the Hat Yai police station and the Provincial Police Bureau 9 headquarters.

The BRN Coordinate has solicited 50 million baht to finance the insurgency exercise from June until year end.

Meanwhile, a bomb went off at the karaoke lounge of the Yala Rama Hotel in Yala's Muang district last night, killing a woman and wounding two others. The victims were not identified.

In Narathiwat, two fake bombs were found outside the house of Sithipan Srikanont, former Thai Rak Thai party MP, and in front of a hardware store in Pattani. A bomb disposal squad was called in after a caller warned of an impending explosion outside the MP's house.

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