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Narathiwat rocked by two blasts
Publication Date : 02-03-2013
Two vehicle bombs in a span of five hours yesterday rocked Narathiwat's Muang district less than 24 hours after the signing of an agreement in Malaysia between Thailand's security authorities and four people purportedly representing insurgent groups in the South of Thailand.
The two attacks - the first at around 6am and the next at around noon - wounded six people and caused heavy property damage.
They were deemed by the media and the public as an act of defiance by insurgents opposed to the peace process.
The attacks were carried out for the first time in recent months within a safety perimeter dubbed the green zones.
The media and the public also questioned whether talks on the same day between Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak were merely a public relations stunt for political gains by both sides as Malaysia is heading for general elections while the Yingluck government has been heavily criticised for its failure to contain the situation in the South.
Based on defence and intelligence sources, attacks were recently carried out independently by the local leaders of insurgents without or with minimal supervision or orders from the core insurgency leadership.
The vehicle-bomb attacks in Narathiwat could be seen as an attack by local insurgent cells aimed at showing that the talks and agreements reached in Malaysia mean nothing to the separatist cause.
The first bomb went off at around 5am. About 5kg of explosives were hidden in a motorcycle parked near the main market in Muang municipality. Six people were injured and one vehicle and six motorcycles were damaged. The grey Honda Dream motorcycle that carried the explosives was reportedly stolen on December 1 last year. Military ordnance personnel said later that the bomb was detonated by a digital wristwatch instead of a mobile phone that is regularly used, as this motorcycle was parked behind a military vehicle operating mobile phone signal-jamming.
Footage from security cameras near the scene later showed unclear images of the operation by the insurgents, because it was still dark at the time of the blast. The footage only showed three pedestrians walking past the scene at the time of explosion, police said.
The second bomb went off around noon, when 50kg of explosives packed in a green Isuzu pickup parked in front of the command post of the provincial police force blew up. There were no casualties but nearby shophouses and a car were damaged. The green Isuzu pickup was not on a five-car watch list and was different from two other vehicles about which authorities had issued a warning earlier.
Military ordnance personnel said later that the explosives were fully contained in a cooking-gas cylinder and only half of the material went off. It was detonated jointly by an alarm clock and a mobile phone. Security officials said this bomb attack was likely carried out by a group responsible for a bomb attack on February 23 near a convenience store located across the barracks of the 45th Ranger Paramilitary Regiment in Ra Ngae district.