Thai authorities looking for suspect in southern car bombing

HATTYAI, Thailand – Police said Wednesday in a police house bombing that killed one police officer and injured 45 others in a part of southern Thailand that has been plagued by Muslim separatist insurgency for almost two decades. He said he was trying to identify a suspect.

Police said the suspect drove a black pickup truck into the compound, parked the car and left. Surveillance footage showed him dressed as a plainclothes police officer. Most of the injured were civilians, including three children.

Since the riots began in 2004, more than 7,300 people have been killed in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, the only Muslim-majority provinces in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Attacks have also taken place in neighboring Songkhla province. Several independent rebel groups are active, some of which have repeatedly held peace talks with the government.

The Muslim population, almost all of ethnic Malay descent, has long accused Thailand of treating them like second-class citizens. The heavy-handed crackdown is fueling dissatisfaction.

In August, a wave of arson and bombing hit the three southernmost states, mostly targeting convenience stores and gas stations. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which injured three people.

Tuesday’s attack on a police house was the second after a policeman was injured in a car bomb attack in Pattani in June this year. But police say there have been about 60 car bombings since 2005.

National Police Chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas said forensic experts believed the explosive device was made from a 50-kilogram (110-pound) cooking gas cylinder.

Human Rights Watch’s Asia director, Elaine Pearson, said in an emailed statement that the bombing was condemned by Human Rights Watch, calling it a “civilian civil war.” It appears to be aimed at the greatest possible loss of human life.”

Human Rights Watch said those responsible for planning, ordering, or carrying out such attacks should be properly brought to justice, saying it has repeatedly accused the Thai government of human rights abuses during the conflict with the rebels. added.

“Thai authorities need to thoroughly and impartially investigate the apartment bombing and hold those responsible accountable,” Pearson said. “At the same time, the Thai government believes that as long as Thai security forces can commit human rights abuses against Malay Muslims with impunity, militant separatist groups will exploit it to justify their illegal attacks. We should recognize that.”

Smeth Pampetch

Associated Press