Plot to bomb Bangkok tourist sites: 3 arrested

Vehicles wait at a traffic intersection on a main road in Bangkok on Sept 13, 2016.
Vehicles wait at a traffic intersection on a main road in Bangkok on Sept 13, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK • Thai police yesterday arrested three men suspected of planning bomb attacks at tourist sites in the capital of Bangkok and nearby provinces, a top officer said.

The three hail from Thailand's Muslim-majority south, where a decades-old insurgency has pitted separatist militants against government forces, said deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.

But he ruled out any link between the suspected plotters and the insurgency. "All three came from the southern provinces and were prepared to carry out an attack in Bangkok and surrounding areas but we believe they are not separatists," he said.

The three wanted to attack six locations, Mr Srivara said, but he did not give any details nor elaborate on what the suspects' motive might have been. Police said in a statement that the plots were "designed to create unrest".

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist but the provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, the first two of which border Malaysia, are majority-Muslim and insurgents there have been fighting for autonomy for decades. Bombings are common in the three southernmost provinces, where the insurgency has killed more than 6,500 people since 2004.

The trouble has been largely confined to the three provinces but a wave of bombings in tourist towns outside the deep south in August killed four Thai people and wounded dozens, including foreigners.

Meanwhile, Philippine police have detained two men for an attempted bombing this week near the US embassy in Manila that has been blamed on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria sympathisers, an official said yesterday.

Other alleged plotters are still being hunted over the powerful bomb found planted in a trash can near the US embassy on Monday, said the capital's head of police, Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Plot to bomb Bangkok tourist sites: 3 arrested'. Print Edition | Subscribe