By Pares Lohasan,
A COMBINED military-police force yesterday continued hunting for five bomb suspects on Koh Tanyong Pao in Pattani’s Nong Chik district, following Wednesday’s raid on a well-hidden insurgency base on this mangrove forest island.
The five men – identified as Isyasa Ha-yae, Maolana Samoh, Fadlan Sohman, Charoen Umasa, and Annungwa Kasor – escaped during the raid, which led to the seizure of a large quantity of bomb-making materials and weapons and the arrest of suspected Runda Kumpulan Kecil operative Sabari Jeh-ali, 30.
Gunfire was exchanged on Wednesdasy but no one was hurt.
The five fugitives, all reportedly armed, are regarded as national security threats, as they allegedly carried out attacks in Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces and are also allegedly linked to bombings in Phuket, Koh Samui in Surat Thani and Songkhla’s Hat Yai district.
Almost 300 security personnel were involved in the raid including an Army explosive ordnance disposal team.
Naval and Airforce personnel also helped in the hunt for the fugitives in boats and a helicopter. Four schools on the island were closed to allow the search for the fugitives.
Three cottages hidden in |the mangroves
Colonel Yutthanam Phetmaung, Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Front Command deputy spokesman, told a press conference in Pattani’s Yarang district that Sabari operated under a group led by Seri Waemamu, who was wanted for the Hat Yai bombing.
Sabari allegedly confessed that he joined the separatist movement upon Maolana’s invitation and that his job was to make bombs with Isyasa, Yutthanam said.
The insurgent’s base on the island – believed to be at least two years old – was made up of three cottages hidden among mangrove trees, he said.
The first cottage was used for assembling bombs, he said, adding that it contained explosive-making materials including kerosene to mix with urea fertiliser, two large gas cylinders, gun powder mixed with ball bearings and a boat load of gun powder.
It also contained a boat load of bomb shrapnel made of chopped metal bars, solar cell panels and guns and ammunitions.
The spokesman said another cottage was used for sleeping and cooking, with a shotgun with 20 bullets and a large amount of petrol found inside.
The third cottage was used as a sleeping quarters, a meeting room and a prayer room.
Inside, there were three boats, two 15-kilogram gas cylinders with bombs attached, copies of the Koran, clothes, hammocks plus survival gear.
Yutthanam thanked the members of the public who provided the authorities with the leads that led to the operation and urged people to tip-off the authorities about suspected illegal activities via the 1341 hotline.