Car showroom torched in Pattani
Ten armed men set fire to a Honda dealer's showroom in Pattani’s Nong Chik district early Wednesday morning, burning 15 cars and two motorcycles, provincial police chief Pol Maj Gen Pichate Pitisetthapan said.
- Published: 22/08/2012 at 05:36 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
A security guard at the Honda showroom at Ban Khok Muang in tambon Yuyong of Nong Chik district told police that 10 armed men wearing face masks stormed into the premises about 2.20 am.
They forced the three security guards to lay down on the floor at gun point. They poured fuel on all the cars parked inside the showroom and set them ablaze. The militants then fled. The security guards immediately called police, asking for help.
Firefighters managed to put out the blaze, but not before 15 new cars and two motorcycles were destroyed. Damage was estimated at 20 million baht.
Pattani governor Theera Mintrasak povernment said it was clear that militants were trying to erode public confidence in the economy in the troubled South, The governor said security measures would be stepped up following the attack.
Anusas Suwannamongkol, managing director of Pattani Honda Cars Co and also owner of CS Pattani Hotel, said he did not think he was being targetted by terrorists but admitted that the situation had become more violent.
A car bomb exploded in front of Mr Anusas's CS Pattani Hotel early this month, one of the many violent incidents during Ramadan.
Mr Anusas said he would like the prime minister to step up efforts to really solve the insurgency problem and provide better safety for people's lives.
Pol Maj-Gen Pichet Pitisethaphan, the Pattani police chief, termed the arson at the Honda dealership an act of terrorism.
He said a mobile telephone signal tower was set on fire before the arsonists struck, probably to draw police attention to the fire while they attacked the car dealership.
Forensic and bomb disposal police were drawn to the scene of the first fire, but found only the lid from a petrol can, Pol Maj-Gen Pichet said.Police were examining pictures from the security cameras at the car showroom for clues.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said insurgents had torched the car dealer's premises because it was easy civilian target and they hoped to generate more unrest and uncertainty,
Gen Yutthasak, who is in charge of security affairs, said the insurgents were looking for weak targets with little security in place.
He warned that other private establishments and innocent people could also be the insurgents' targets.
Gen Yutthasak said he was calling a meeting of the operations centre for solving problems in southern border provinces at 2pm Thursday. Representatives from all security agencies would attend.