Militants not seen as likely culprits
The government and the Council for National Security (CNS) yesterday played down speculation that the bomb attacks in Bangkok on New Year's Eve were planned by Muslim insurgents based in the deep South, despite certain evidence.
A high-ranking CNS source said the initials IRK, which represent a group of Islamic militias who reportedly received training in Afghanistan in guerrilla warfare in urban areas recently, that was left at three of the eight bomb sites seemed too deliberate and obviously intended to make security officials think they were behind the attacks.
Security officials, the government and the CNS yesterday hinted the bomb attacks were carried out by "those who have lost their political interests" while not explicitly saying whether the attacks were carried out by those with connections to the ousted Thaksin government.
The IRK initials were written with markers at four places at three bomb sites - a pillar near a bus stop at Victory Monument, a phone booth near Gaysorn Plaza, a phone booth near Pratunam Pier, and a phone booth near Big C Rajdamri. Police said the initials could have been painted as graffiti and might not have anything to do with the attacks.
Interior Minister Aree Wong-araya also shrugged off speculation involving Muslim militants. He refrained from giving his opinion on who was behind the co-ordinated attacks across the capital, saying military and police intelligence services were investigating.
Citing speculation that pointed to Muslim insurgents, Aree, a Muslim, said care should be taken when linking the bomb attacks with Islam as New Year's Eve was a holy day in Islam. "Those trying to link the attacks with Muslim insurgents need to think hard," he said.
He declined to comment on whether the attacks were ordered by those with ties to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He doubted the attacks had anything to do with a reported failed attempt by pro-Thaksin military officers to carry out a recent counter-coup operation.
A military ordnance source said the type of explosives used at all eight bomb sites was the same - Ammonium Nitrate Fuel Oil (ANFO) which was classified as M4, an industrial blasting agent of 94 per cent ammonium nitrate and 6 per cent petrol.
Police, however, provided different information on the type of explosive used, saying the bombs were home-made, of a non-violent type and detonated by batteries.
A high-ranking police source said those behind the attacks could have been " in uniform" but declined to be more specific until concrete evidence was made available.
Provincial authorities have been instructed to stay on alert around the clock to brace for more attacks. Bomb threats and alarms can be reported to the hotline number 1567, or 02-223-8851 or 02-622-2441 at the Interior Ministry.
Permanent Secretary Phongphayome Wasaphooti said extra security had been ordered at crowded public areas and government offices while civil defence volunteers and village protection units were ordered on standby.
Rescue units and emergency assistance were also ready and public relations officials are communicating with community leaders to seek co-operation from residents to notify authorities of suspicious incidents or report abandoned objects.