Ayutthaya teen held in bomb hoax

Ayutthaya teen held in bomb hoax

Police arrested a 17-year-old college student in Ayutthaya on Saturday after he used his friend's Facebook account to post a hoax bomb threat and cause a public panic.

The teen, whose name was withheld due to his age, was taken for questioning by Pol Maj Gen Sanit Mahathaworn, the deputy commander of Provincial Police Region 6, Daily News Online reported.

The arrest comes at a time when the country is on edge following the deadly bombing that killed 20 people at the Erawan shrine in Bangkok. Authorities have pledged to take quick and decisive legal action against anyone posting false information about Monday’s attack on social media or online rumours deemed to cause public panic and confusion. 

The student told police that he had taken his friend's smartphone on Friday and used it to post a message on the friend's Facebook page, claiming bombs had been hidden at several locations across Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district.

He also posted the message on some other local online forums. He said his friend was not aware of what had been done. 

"Next target is Ayutthaya. I've placed one bomb on the underground floor of Lotus, two bombs in front of the cinema, three at the entrance, three at Jao Prom Market, and two at Nai Fun Kindergarten," the message read. 

The hoax threat went viral and created fear among the public. Local police searched all the spots mentioned in the message but did not find any suspicious items. 

Pol Maj Gen Sanit said the student would be charged with violating Section 384 of the Penal Code and the Computer Crime Act. Section 384 states that any person who alarms the public by maliciously circulating false reports faces a maximum of one month in jail and/or a fine of up to 1,000 baht.

The arrested teen said through tears that the message was intended to be a prank and he was not aware it would have such severe consequences. He apologised to the public and police for causing such chaos.

Pol Maj Gen Sanit warned that anyone who intended to create panic by disseminating hoax bomb threats or other false information would be arrested immediately.

Social media users on Saturday also lambasted the Ayutthaya hoaxer and praised police for catching him quickly. 

Facebook user Somphong Kongjun wrote: "Why cry now? The whole country is feeling sad but he wanted to play a prank. He deserves prison time for rehab."

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