NARATHIWAT : Eight soldiers and five journalists were injured in two consecutive bomb blasts yesterday in the insurgency-plagued South, police said.
The first explosion injured six soldiers on a roadside in Hulupare village in Narathiwat's Rangae district at 11.10am. Insurgents detonated a 20kg gas cylinder bomb hidden under a tree on the roadside while the six soldiers were on patrol.
Rangae police chief Jiradej Prasawang said the soldiers were providing security for voters in yesterday's tambon council election.
Pol Col Jiradej , his investigators, a bomb disposal squad and reporters rushed to the scene and found the soldiers lying on the ground.
About an hour after the first blast, while police and the bomb disposal squad were collecting evidence, a second bomb hanging from a tree nearby exploded, injuring two soldiers and five journalists.
Police said insurgents were hiding in bushes nearby when they detonated the second bomb.
The six soldiers injured in the first bombing, from the 45th Ranger Regiment in Narathiwat, were later identified as Pol Sgt Maj Wichai Ramchuay, Ranger Wayukhun Jittiarom, Ranger Mongkol Deejai, Ranger Assaman Jehama, Ranger Suradej Jamkate, and Ranger Manuwa Waji.
The two soldiers hurt in the second attack were identified as Pol Snr Sgt Maj Preecha Thongsrimai and Pol Sgt Witthaya Plodlek.
The five reporters were Kreeya Tohtanee from Channel 7, Madalee Tohlala from Agence France-Presse, Muranee Mama from Siam Rath newspaper, Santhiti Khojitmate from Channel 5 and Patitta Nusantad from Thai PBS.
All of the injured are being treated at Narathiwat Ratchanakarin Hospital.
A spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command Forward Command's Region 4, Pramote Promin, called for the media and civil society to condemn those behind the bombings.
In Yala, police found a paper box containing 5kg of explosives wrapped with black tape yesterday morning.
The bomb was placed under a Krung Thai Bank ATM in Khok Chang village of tambon Mae Wat in Than To district. The bomb was defused.
Police suspect the bomb was most likely placed by Runda Kumpalan Kecil (RKK) members.
Meanwhile, Songkhla police chief Ekkaphop Prasitwatthanachai yesterday had a meeting with Muslim leaders from Songkhla and Pattani to brief them on the security situation in the deep South.
He demanded Muslim leaders work more closely with his police officers regarding the monitoring of security and information sharing.