BANGKOK (AFP) - Small bombs that rattled Bangkok as Thailand hosted world powers last week have been tied to insurgents from the conflict-hit south, the deputy prime minister said on Tuesday (Aug 6), as police hunt more suspects after arresting two men.
There were at least nine successful or attempted bomb blasts on Friday which left four people wounded as the city hosted top diplomats including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
The attacks occurred as anger grows over the recent arrest of a rebel suspect from the Muslim-majority south, who was found in a coma at an army camp where rights groups have documented allegations of torture.
A preliminary army-led probe said Abdulloh Esormusor, 34, could have been suffocated.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters that last week's blasts were "linked to a southern group".
"We have to investigate how they travelled, where they obtained the bombs," he said.
Former junta leader turned civilian premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha said later on Tuesday there were nine suspects at large.
"An investigation is still ongoing to bring them to justice," he said.
Two men from a southern province were arrested last week just hours after wires and ball bearings were found in an inactive device outside Thai police headquarters.
Gen Prayut, who is also the defence minister, is travelling to the south on Wednesday on a previously scheduled trip.
Thailand remains deeply divided after a controversial election in March returned a junta to power as a civilian government, but it is also locked in a violent rebellion in the south that has killed thousands over the past 15 years.
The victims have been mostly civilians of both Buddhist and Muslim faiths.
Occasionally, the shadowy rebel cells take their violence outside their region to mark key anniversaries or kickback against specific Thai actions.