POLICE in Thailand believe that a network of at least 20 people living in the kingdom’s Muslim-majority southern provinces were involved in the recent wave of deadly explosions that killed four tourists and injured dozens of others.
National police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda who was speaking to reporters yesterday did not, however, offer further details on the probe, only saying he could not confirm whether the attacks were linked to the decade-long bloody insurgency in the south that has killed thousands since 2004.
Chakthip said police have not ruled out any motive for the attacks but believe that those linked to the killings that struck seven provinces are Muslims living in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, The Nation reported.
“Some of them are also wanted for security cases that had happened in the deep South,” he was quoted as saying.
“We know where they came from, where they went. We believe there are at least 20 people involved in this network,” Reuters quoted him as saying.
The police chief added that the authorities were “unwilling” to discuss motives pending their completion of the probe.
“We are unwilling to say what their motive is and whether it is related to the referendum, the insurgency or whether they were hired,” he was quoted saying.
The Nation wrote that Chakthip’s information appeared to indicate that Thai authorities have already identified all the suspects involved in the attacks.
Only one arrest warrant, however, has been issued for Ahama Lengha who hails from Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district. Ahama is believed to be responsible for planting a bomb in Phuket’s Patong resort area.
Chakthip also said that those believed involved in the attacks that rocked tourist towns between August 11 and 12 were likely members of a group that took orders for missions in their assigned provinces.
“If we can catch any of them, we will be able to identify the mastermind,” he said.
Police had previously arrested 15 people over alleged links to the deadly bombings but later confirmed they were not involved.
The group, however, was still found to have violated the military government’s assembly ban as they were alleged to be members of a political group that opposed the junta.
The 15 were accused of being part of an anti-government group called ‘Network for Democratic Revolution’ that breached the junta’s ban on gatherings of more than five people.