Suspected Muslim militants set off four more explosives yesterday in continued bombings, shootings and arsons across southern Thailand that killed at least one person and injured 28 in less than 48 hours, police said.
A bomb triggered by a mobile telephone signal injured eight people in a busy downtown area of Narathiwat yesterday, while other explosions in nearby districts wounded two police officers and two teachers, police Major Kamol Photiyok said.
The bombings followed a string of apparently coordinated attacks on Wednesday in which suspected militants set off six bombs, attacked military outposts and burned village homes, officials said. At least one person was killed and 16 wounded.
Three bombs went off almost simultaneously in Sungai Kolok, a town popular with tourists from nearby Malaysia because of its notorious night life, while in nearby Pattani, three other explosives rocked the provincial capital, two just meters from the regional army headquarters, according to police officers.
Beginning their campaign early last year, Muslim separatists have launched increasingly brazen and better coordinated strikes in the country's three southernmost provinces which border Malaysia. More than 950 people, both Buddhists and Muslims, have died in the escalating violence.
Police Colonel Surasak Romaranon said the bombs in Sungai Kolok went off at about 9pm behind the Genting Hotel, near a karaoke bar and in front of the Plaza Hotel, injuring 15 people, at least one of them a Malaysian man.
Almost simultaneous attacks were also launched in five districts of Narathiwat province, in which Sungai Kolok is located, with the insurgents striking at military outposts and burning houses and telephone booths, army spokesman Colonel Somkuan Saengphataraneth said.
In Pattani, about 10 assailants sprayed a police checkpoint with gunfire, killing a police sergeant and injuring his wife before two bombs were set off near the army headquarters in the provincial capital, said Police Major Paithoon Pattanasophon.
One bridge was knocked out of service and another one was damaged when 14 bombs, each weighing about 10kg, were set off Wednesday night beneath three bridges in the provincial capital, said Police Colonel Suvit Jermsiri, head of the provincial bomb squad.
Yesterday, he said, 15 explosives were defused.
The southern region's army commander, Lieutenant General Khwanchart Kraharn, said the attacks were the most serious since the government introduced an emergency decree in the area in July that lets authorities detain suspects without charge and curtail other liberties.
"I want to urge people to condemn the assailants and cooperate with authorities by informing officials of the militants' movements," he said at a news conference.
`A desperate act'
"The assailants staged a desperate act to demonstrate their potential to make people fearful after authorities successfully made many of their sympathizers turn to us," Khwanchart said.
Security forces have arrested 11 suspects for involvement in Wednesday night's attacks, he said.
Southern Muslims have long felt marginalized in the predominantly Buddhist nation and the economically underdeveloped region has been notorious as a dumping ground for corrupt, inefficient and sometimes brutal police officials who have further alienated the local population.