Car bomb warning prompts city police to beef up security
Police have stepped up security measures following an alert of possible attacks in Bangkok's Sathon area, insisting on a connection to conflicts in the deep South rather than foreign terrorist networks.
Police announced Thursday they intend to boost security in Bangkok in response to a car bomb warning letter issued by the Sathon District Office to schools in the Sathon area on Oct 28.
According to a copy of the letter posted on social media, which has gone viral since Wednesday, the City Clerk was told by security agencies to increase security measures and keep a look out for a black Honda Accord bearing a Bangkok licence plate No.1563 and a black Mitsubishi Triton pickup truck bearing a Yala licence plate No.3597 which could be used in car bomb attacks.
Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Thitirat Nongharnpitak said the CIB beefed up security throughout Bangkok after the government warned of possible attacks in the capital.
Pol Lt Gen Thitirat also insisted the warning had nothing to do with foreign terrorist networks and was connected to internal conflicts in the country's southern provinces.
He also instructed the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), which is under his command, to work with the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) to monitor the movements of suspicious looking individuals.
Moreover, Pol Lt Gen Thitirat added the CIB has been touch with Mossad, an Israeli intelligence agency, and they did not have any reports of foreign terrorism cells in Thailand.
Meanwhile, MPB chief Sanit Mahathavorn admitted there have been warnings of terrorism in the capital and asked the public not to panic as measures to cope with possible attacks had been devised.
Pol Lt Gen Sanit denied to give further details about the measures, only adding more checkpoints would be set up along roads in Bangkok.
Also Thursday, Pol Col Surachet Hakpan, commander of the MPB's patrol and special operations unit, said police had been carrying out searches in several target locations in Bangkok over the past few days, particularly the Ramkhamhaeng area, Min Buri and Nong Chok districts which hosts a number of Muslims from the three southern provinces.
The search was conducted in a bid to prevent gatherings of people with ill intentions which could lead to possible attacks and violence, he said.
Top schools in Bangkok have tightened security to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.
Supranee Kraiwatnussorn, principal of Satriwittaya School, said the school has introduced some tighter safety measures in response to the warning from intelligence agencies.
Under the new measures, all parents are required to sign in and provide identification while picking up their children after classes. All parents' cars will need to be registered as well, she said.
"This means visitors or strangers cannot walk or drive into school grounds as freely as they used to," she said.
Ms Supranee said the school also requested 10 or 12 police officers from Chana Songkhram Police Station to patrol around the school every day as a precautionary measure.
"We need to boost our security because our school grounds are being used as one of the Education Ministry's three service centres where people from across the country coming to pay respects to the body of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej can get free food and drinks, dye their clothes black during the day and sleep inside at night," she said.
Ms Suprenee said all mourners who want to use services or sleep inside the centre are required to provide identification to receive a red strap which they have to wear as long as they are inside the school campus.
The other two centres, located at Wat Rajabopit School and Dusitaram Secondary School, are following the same measures.
Amnuay Chanhom, acting principal of Suankularb Wittayalai School, said the school has asked all students and teachers to keep an eye out for suspicious activities and strangers at the school after it saw a photo of the warning letter from security agencies on the news.
"If students or teachers see anything suspicious, they should report it to our security team immediately so the team can respond quickly," he said.