11 July 2024

Army Commander-in-Chief General Apirat Kongsompong has blamed the same group of people “with an old mindset” who engineered bomb attacks in Bangkok in 2006 for being behind the multiple explosions in the city today (Friday), but he says they used “new faces” to carry out the violent incidents.

He said that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has called on the national police chief, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, and commanders of the three armed forces to handle the situation.

Pol Gen Chakthip was appointed by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan to take charge of the investigation and to track down all those responsible.

“This is an indication that there may be more incidents to come,” said the army chief, but he assured that the military was able to control the situation. He admitted, however, that he was concerned that the political elements of some discontented people might capitalize on the explosions to blame the military for perpetrating the incidents.

There were incidents at seven locations in Bangkok this morning. Two city workers were injured in the blasts in front of the King Power Maha Nakorn building near BTS’s Chong Nonsee station. There were also incidents at the government complex at Chaengwattana and at Suan Luang Rama 9.

Commenting on the two suspects, who are being held in police custody, the army chief said that they were being questioned by the police to find who else is involved as well as the mastermind.

The two suspects in police custody have been identified as Lu-ai Saengae and Wildon Maha, both natives of the Rue So district of Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat. They were arrested as they were travelling on a tour bus bound for Narathiwat at about 2am this morning.

Wildon’s image was captured by a security camera after he dropped a suspicious package in front of the Royal Thai police headquarters on Thursday. Lu-ai, meanwhile, was identified as a member of a separatist insurgent group in the restive Deep South.

Informed security sources say that a police manhunt has been underway since last night, focusing on the southern bus terminal in the belief that the perpetrators might try to flee Bangkok by bus.

Sources said that police arrested the two suspects at a checkpoint at Pathomporn intersection in Chumpon province after they searched a tour bus to look for Muslim men.  A small steel bottle containing a device attached to electric wire and a dry-cell battery was found in the possession of one of them.

The two suspects were immediately returned by police to Bangkok for questioning. It is not immediately known whether they were involved in today’s explosions, although one of them had apparently been captured by a security camera dropping a suspicious package in front of the Royal Thai Police HQ on Thursday. The suspicious package was later found to contain bomb-making parts but no explosives.