A PROVINCIAL court has convicted all five defendants charged in a car-bomb plot, which included blatant theft of vehicles from a car centre in Songkhla province and a fatal hostage-taking.
Songkhla is one of Thailand’s four southern border provinces that has struggled with unrest for more than a decade.
On Monday, the Na Thawi court sentenced to death one of the defendants on several counts related to a crime that made headlines 16 months ago, while three other defendants received life imprisonment. The final defendant was convicted of the lesser charge of illegal association related to the crimes and sentenced to two years and eight months in jail.
On August 16, 2017, a group of armed men raided the Wangto Car Centre in tambon Na Thawi in Songkhla’s Na Thawi district and took the business owner and his three employees hostage. The raiders also stole several vehicles from the centre.
Two of the hostages successfully escaped, but the other two were shot. One of the victims was killed while the other sustained serious injuries.
Security officers later retrieved at least four stolen trucks – one of which was equipped with a bomb that was disarmed safely. Another truck exploded in Pattani’s Nong Chik district.
Car-bomb attacks are not uncommon in Thailand’s deep South, where thousands of soldiers and civilians have died from the violence.
On Monday, soldiers clashed with suspected insurgents at a forest zone in Narathiwat’s Chanae district. The gunfight led to the death of two suspects.
Yesterday, the dead suspects were identified as Ayi Yama, 37, and Sukree Mamu, 36. Both were wanted for their alleged role in security crimes.
Ayi allegedly shot dead four people in Narathiwat’s Sukhirin district last June. Sukree, meanwhile, was accused of shooting and injuring a teacher in Narathiwat’s Sungai Padi district in 2012.
Colonel Isara Jantakayom, who heads a joint taskforce, said guns found with the bodies of Ayi and Sukree were stolen from authorities through fatal attacks.
“One of these guns was stolen from soldiers after an explosion killed eight in 2008,” Isara said.
He said the other gun was very likely stolen from two officials who were shot dead on August 7 last year.
“This is also the gun we suspect was used to kill an abbot and injure two other monks at a temple in Sungai Padi last month,” Isara said. He was speaking as he inspected the scene along with security officials yesterday. The bodies of the two suspected insurgents will undergo an autopsy before being handed over to their families for a proper funeral.