Thailand issues arrest warrant for second suspect in deadly blasts

Thai soldiers patrolling near Erawan Shrine in Thailand's capital, Bangkok. The country was rocked by a wave of bomb attacks last week that killed four and injured dozens.
Thai soldiers patrolling near Erawan Shrine in Thailand's capital, Bangkok. The country was rocked by a wave of bomb attacks last week that killed four and injured dozens.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BANGKOK • A Thai military court issued an arrest warrant yesterday for a second suspect in connection with a wave of deadly bomb attacks last week that killed four people and injured dozens, police said.

The news came as Malaysia yesterday denied that an SIM card used in one of the attacks was from the country, the Bernama news agency reported.

"We have examined the SIM card and the mobile phone, but so far there is not enough evidence that the card is from us," said Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.

Explosions rocked seven provinces in Thailand's south last Thursday and Friday, just days after Thais voted to accept a military-backed Constitution.

No group has claimed responsibility, but police and senior officials have publicly ruled out any link to foreign militants.

"The court has approved the arrest warrant for one suspect for the explosions. We can't say who that individual is," said Counter Crime Planning Division commander Chaiyapol Chatchaidet.

It was the second arrest warrant issued in connection with the wave of attacks. Police on Sunday said they had arrested one suspect for arson.

Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the attacks might have involved southern insurgents hired to carry out the bombings, but he added that the blasts were not an extension of a bloody separatist war in the country's three southern-most Muslim-dominated provinces.

Security experts said official reluctance to point the finger at Malay-Muslim insurgents was unsurprising as admitting that southern insurgents were involved would have serious economic and security implications for Thailand.

Deputy police chief Sriwarah Rangsipramkul did not name the suspect yesterday. But he said the bomber had a history of involvement in separatist attacks in the south, according to news site Khaosod. "Based on the investigation, I believe this suspect is an important key to implicate other members in the network," he said at a news conference yesterday.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Thailand issues arrest warrant for second suspect in deadly blasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe