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Panic in Pattani city after spate of bombs

Two killed, 12 hurt by explosive devices late Saturday and yesterday

The economic future of Pattani in the far South is in a worrying state after a series of bomb attacks from Saturday night to yesterday. The bombs killed two rangers, wounded 12 people and damaged a bar, shops and a department store in its bustling commercial district.

A bomb attack yesterday on the Pattani clock tower that left two officials dead came hot on the heels of the discovery of 10 explosive devices planted at various locations in the centre of Pattani city on Saturday night.

Police said that about noon yesterday a bomb went off outside the Big Ben restaurant at the clock tower, the busiest place in the city. The blast shattered the restaurant's windows and damaged more than 10 houses nearby, 10 motorcycles and a car.

Wiroj Chantasiri died instantly and Sukree Duerae perished on the way to a hospital. The wounded were identified as Ithipol Aresae, Sopheeya Paoji, Khatapan Sinsanong, Daranee Satienmongkol, Sukij Usoh, Ibrohem Tohsatoo, Kingkan Mahawan, Wasant Chanbuntham, Somsak Kaewmanee and Amnat Saewong.

Police said an unknown number of militants left an improvised bomb near the restaurant. The device - inflammatory substances filled in two 10-kilogram fire extinguishers - was believed to have been detonated by insurgents hiding nearby with radio communications equipment as security volunteers arrived at the scene.

At 1pm yesterday, police found a firebomb at the night market near Diana Supermarket, which had been hit by a firebomb after midnight. The fire destroyed the building and all stocks in the three-storey department store. It took 10 fire engines one hour to bring the blaze under control.

Among the 10 spots where militants planted a firebomb with the intention to destroy property and take human lives was a karaoke bar on Ramkomut Road. Witnesses said two people dressed like students came on a motorcycle and dropped the bomb in a garbage bin near the bar. A 41-year-old man was slightly hurt when it went off at 7.30pm on Saturday.

Witnesses said the militants wanted to attract security officials to the scene with the first bomb and then set off another bomb when they arrived at the bar, but residents alerted police about the hidden bomb.

After being tipped off, security officials disarmed another bomb in the form of a 30-kilogram gas tank left near a motorcycle-driven freight transporter carrying eight gallons of petrol that was believed to have been left at the scene to maximise devastation from the explosion.

Police said if the bomb had exploded, at least 20 houses would have been destroyed and a service station could have created more damage if a fire or explosion had reached it.

At a night market on Pipith Road in downtown Pattani, bomb disposal officers defused a small firebomb made with a timer, 100 matches and some petrol.

Two teenagers, who pretended to buy something from the On Witthaya stationery shop, hid a firebomb near a stack of papers. The owner, discovering this, quickly took it outside and left it at a park in front of a police station.

A grocery shop called Rungruang Kanka was also targeted. The shop owner hastily took the bomb to the middle of the road, where it was disarmed by police in time.

A building material shop spanning eight blocks of a four-storey building was struck with a fire-bomb. Two elderly workers staying in the building suffered from smoke inhalation and were hospitalised.

A kitchenware shop 300 metres away was also hit by a firebomb but the owners were prepared and put out the fire before it spread.

With the attacks happening one after the other, residents feared for their lives and carried their possessions out of their shops.

Officials were instructed to step up security in the city, as the insurgents were believed to be planning more attacks in revenge for Wednesday's ambush in Narathiwat that saw 16 comrades killed and four captured.


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