Police say 10-20 people involved in bomb and arson attacks that hit seven provinces.
The bomb and arson attacks in seven provinces last Thursday and Friday were all connected and carried out by a single mastermind, Thai police said yesterday.
Police General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said that authorities were putting together the jigsaw to identify the network behind the attacks that hit Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, plus six southern provinces, including Phuket. He spoke after a teleconference with regional chiefs in affected provinces.
However, he did not identify or elaborate at this stage on the individual mastermind or the motives behind the attacks, which killed four people and injured dozens of Thais and foreigners.
The events are connected, carefully planned and carried out across many areas and masterminded by one individual, Pongsapat said.
Meanwhile, Thai authorities |have sought help from Malaysian officials to track a mobile phone |used in a bombing in Phuket last Friday, said to have originated in Malaysia.
“The explosion did not destroy a portion of the mobile phone with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s serial number still visible on the phone and Thai investigators have asked for Malaysia’s cooperation to identify the origin of the phone,” a source told Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama.
According to Pongsapat, the network behind the multiple bomb and arson attacks was believed to include 10-20 people and the incidents had no connection with unrest in the Deep South.
Police sources said two separate teams were involved in the attacks late last week, with one responsible for bombs and the other team behind the arson attacks. Their operating route started in Phuket followed by Phang-Nga, Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Surat Thani. Songkhla and Phatthalung were not affected because they were off the main targeted route.
Sources said a number of suspects believed to be members of this network were now being interrogated by authorities.
Earlier, a court approved an arrest warrant for Sakharin Karuehas, who was captured on camera, for his alleged role in setting fire to a Tesco Lotus store in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat during the August 11-12 incidents.
Police yesterday searched the business premises of Taweesin Plastic in Surat Thani, that was set on fire during the two-day ram|page. Arthirat Sri-jarassin, owner of Taweesin Plastic, said he had no serious conflicts with other people, while police have detained two suspects for incidents in Surat Thani.
Regarding several small bombs set off in Hua Hin, Pongsapat said authorities had offered a Bt200,000 reward to anyone who provides tips for police, as the suspects are believed to be still in the country.
Meanwhile, an unexploded bomb was recovered near a hotel on Pracha U-tit Road in Phuket’s Patong beach. The explosive was hidden in a cloth bag left unattended at a souvenir shop inside Paradise Plaza, a spot popular with tourists.
Col Winthai Suvaree, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order, said suspects in the incidents would be taken for interrogation and released within seven days if found to have no connection to these incidents.
National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said the bombings may have been carried out by opponents of a military-drafted constitution, which was approved in a referendum last week.
The two main political parties, both of which campaigned against the constitution, have condemned the attacks as reprehensible and called for a speedy investigation.