Six Pattani blasts prompt Chinese New Year fears

Six Pattani blasts prompt Chinese New Year fears

PATTANI: Six Sunday morning bomb blasts in the province’s three districts which left nine people, including the Yaring district chief, injured have sent authorities scrambling to boost security amid fears of more attacks during the Chinese New Year festival.

The Betong Municipality and Chinese communities in Yala are at the centre of concerns as an intelligence report warned against insurgent suspects hatching car bomb plots in key economic areas.

The string of bombings in Pattani, some of which were intended to lure officers to the scene where secondary bombs were planted, was thought to be the work of a militant group which wanted to “demonstrate power” after a report that some insurgent suspects decided to turn themselves in to authorities, a police source said Sunday.

Officers of the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) unit were called to areas in Yaring, Yarang and Sai Buri districts after 12 bombs were found, but they managed to destroy six.

A bomb in Yaring exploded at 8.30am near Yaring school.

The incident prompted police and local officials to rush to the scene where they spotted two suspicious items left near a telephone booth. The officers sealed off the area and waited for EOD officers to inspect them.

But bombs hidden inside the items went off, scaring away the officers and nearby residents.

Yaring district chief Adul Meensen crouched by an armoured pickup truck but he sustained injuries caused by shrapnel.

Doctors at Yaring Hospital said he is in a satisfactory condition.

Mr Adul is among six wounded victims in Yaring. They include a police officer identified as Pol Lt Nopphong Chumkaeo, territorial defence volunteer Mustafa Lancha and an elderly woman named Somchin Sueppradit.

Two passers-by — Tuwae Abdulloh Huda and Adae Bendara — were also injured.

About 3am before the bombing, a grocery, about 50 metres off a blast spot, was engulfed in fire, police said.

Investigators believe the blaze resulted from a fire bomb.

It was not the first time the shop was attacked. Three years ago, a bomb was planted there. Its owner Suprani Phetwilai narrowly escaped death.

“I can’t live here any more,” she said after the two deadly attacks almost claimed her life.

Another four bomb blasts erupted in Yarang and Sai Buri districts.

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