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Thailand detains several people for questioning over deadly blasts

No-one has claimed responsibility, although police and the government have ruled out ties to foreign groups, linking the bombings to an unspecified domestic issue. Photograph: (Getty)

Reuters Bangkok Thailand Aug 15, 2016, 08.30 AM (IST)
Thailand's army said today it had detained several people for questioning over a wave of deadly bombings in some of the country's best-known beach resorts that killed four people and wounded dozens, including tourists.

Last week's blasts came days after Thais voted to accept a military-backed constitution paving the way for an election at the end of 2017.

No one has claimed responsibility, although police and the government have ruled out ties to foreign groups, linking the bombings to an unspecified domestic issue. Analysts say suspicion would inevitably fall on enemies of the junta aggrieved by the referendum results, or insurgents from Muslim-majority provinces in the south of the predominantly Buddhist country.

Several people are being held at army facilities, but none have been charged, military government spokesman colonel Winthai Suvaree told Reuters.

"Right now Sakkarin has been detained under Article 44 (by military). The arrest warrant is another separate thing (issued by police)," said police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, referring to a suspect detained for arson. He denied another man who has also been arrested was detained in connection with the bombings.

"We have arrested Abdullah following another arrest warrant (from another separate case) from Krabi for which we believe that he has been on the run for several years. Now we have arrested him."

The legislation gives the military government absolute power to take any steps needed to protect public peace and detain people for up to seven days without a court warrant. Winthai declined to say how many were detained, although rights groups fear the number runs into dozens, but no-one has yet been charged.

Yesterday a deputy national police chief said the attacks were carried out simultaneously by one group on the orders of one person, but gave no further details. Over the weekend authorities defused at least five explosive devices which had failed to detonate. Three bombs went off in the Muslim-majority province of Yala late yesterday, but nobody was injured, police said.

Defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan said last week's blasts were "definitely" not related to the southern insurgency, although some involved might have come from the region.

Prawit told reporters today that the incident was an extension of the deep south insurgency, and it was possible they could have been hired from there. For more than a decade, Thailand has been divided between populist political forces led by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the royalist and military establishment.

They accuse Thaksin, toppled in a 2006 coup, of corruption and nepotism, charges he rejects. His sister Yingluck, who took power after a 2011 election win, was ousted in a 2014 coup. Fears that Yingluck and Thaksin could be blamed for orchestrating last week's attacks prompted a denial by their party.

(Reuters)
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