MALAYSIA has agreed to provide assistance to track down suspects in the deadly bomb and arson attacks in Prachuap Khiri Khan and six Southern provinces this month and will sign a memorandum of understanding that aims to solve the insurgency in Thailand’s deep South, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said yesterday.
The development came as a military court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for Pattani resident Asmin Katemmadee in connection with a bomb attack in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district on Mother’s Day.
Prawit told reporters upon his arrival in Thailand from meeting with Malaysian officials in Kuala Lumpur that the memorandum, covering border cooperation, trans-border crime and people with dual citizenship, would be signed when Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak visited Thailand on September 9.
Malaysia is also willing to help investigate Malaysian SIM cards found at the scenes of the bomb attacks in the seven provinces, he said.
Asmin is one of three alleged perpetrators of the Hua Hin bomb attacks, according to deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.
Last week, the military court issued an arrest warrant for Russaran Baima, a resident of Songkhla province, in relation to the Hua Hin attacks and police were looking for another suspect who was on the run, Srivara said.
Authorities have been struggling to apprehend the suspects who orchestrated the attacks in the seven provinces on August 11 and 12, which killed four people and wounded more than 30.
Asmin, 29, is also wanted in connection with violence in the southernmost Yala province in April and a bomb attack at a shopping mall in Surat Thani’s Koh Samui in May last year.
Srivara said the attacks in the seven provinces were probably carried out by the same group. He said the group was divided into several teams with a few members on each team.
He said suspects acted professionally but it was hard to say whether the attacks mirrored the ongoing violence in the deep South.
Other analysts have said the deep South separatists, notably the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, have expanded their operations to the upper South and the capital to increase their bargaining power in the peace process.
Violence in the deep South has claimed more than 6,000 lives since attacks resumed in early 2004 and authorities are struggling to contain in the violence. Peace talks between authorities in Bangkok and separatists have not yet started.
The first arrest warrant in the wake of the recent attacks was for Ahama Lengha, a resident of Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district, for allegedly planting a bomb in Phuket’s Patong resort area.
Police do not have clear information on where the suspects are hiding but believe they are still in the Kingdom. Other sources said some of them including Ahama were on the run in Malaysia.
Investigations into the six other attacks, including the first explosion in Trang’s Muang district that killed one person and injured seven others, have made little progress.
Provincial police said there might be four suspects involved in the Trang attack, citing evidence obtained from closed-circuit television cameras near the scene. The military has arrested one suspect since August 23 and police are collecting evidence and seeking and arrest warrant to extend his detention for further investigation.