THREE PEOPLE were killed and 23 injured when suspected insurgents detonated a homemade bomb hidden inside a motorcycle at a fresh food market in the Southern province of Yala yesterday.
Police said the explosion occurred at 6am in front of a pork-seller’s stall at Pimolchai market on Kwang Chia Burana Road in Muang district. The market was busy with shoppers at the time of the explosion.
The blast caused goods to be scattered around and created great alarm. When police arrived at the scene, panicked shoppers were crying in fear.
Police said two civilians were killed at the scene and another died in hospital, while 23 were injured. They believe the bomb was detonated with a timing device.
A spate of violence has rocked the predominantly Muslim region since 2004, claiming more than 6,800 lives so far. No specific group had yet claimed responsibility for the bomb.
Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) spokesperson Pramote Prom-In said an operational cell of the insurgency was behind the bomb as part of a plan to orchestrate violence against state authority. It would not be difficult for officials to identify the culprits, he added.
The explosion in a relatively calm area of the Kingdom’s southernmost province indicated that the insurgents wanted to discredit the government, he said.
They wanted not only to randomly take the lives of ordinary people but also to damage the local economy at a time when the government was implementing an economic plan to raise living standards, he said.
Authorities in Bangkok have struggled for more than a decade to contain violence apparently motivated by ethno-religious grievances. Muslim Malays have fought for autonomy of their homeland since it was annexed by Thailand – formerly Siam – more than a century ago.
Pramote said extremism and using violence against innocent civilians was unacceptable. “Thousands of innocent people have died from acts of extremism over the past 10 years,” he said.
One of the injured, Wichai Jehma, said there was no reason for innocent people like himself to suffer from violence. “Our lives in the three southernmost provinces have been troubled for a long time,” he said from his bed in a Yala hospital. “We don’t want to see any more people lost.”
The Fourth Army Region Commander, Lt-General Piyawat Nakwanich, yesterday visited Wichai and many other injured people in the hospital.
Meanwhile, security checks became more intense in Hat Yai in neighbouring Songkhla yesterday after suspected insurgents detonated a bomb there.
District officials, police and soldiers were carefully checking vehicles at three locations and patrolling Hat Yai business areas, scrutinising parked vehicles. Violence occasionally flares in Hat Yai and many other Songkhla districts.
A security source said agencies had been warned of major attacks from January 20 to 26.