BANGKOK: Thai authorities have arrested the first suspect linked to a string of bomb and arson attacks that rocked southern tourist towns last month, announced Thai Police.
The coordinated blasts erupted across seven provinces on Aug 11-12, killing four and injuring dozens, including foreign tourists.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing spree but analysts say it bore the hallmarks of ethnic Malay Muslim insurgents behind a 12-year rebellion concentrated further south.
The battle for greater autonomy from the Buddhist-majority state has killed than 6,500 people – mainly civilians – since 2004, but the violence rarely spills outside the southern border region.
“One suspected arsonist was arrested yesterday in his hometown in Pattani,” assistant national police chief Suchart Theerasawatsaid said yesterday, referring to a province that lies in the heart of the insurgency.
The man, identified by police as 36-year-old Abdul Kadae Salae, is accused of setting fire to a supermarket in Trang province.
The flames severely damaged the building and struck during the same early morning window as bombings in other towns, including the beach resort of Hua Hin and the island of Phuket.
“He is being questioned at a military camp,” the officer added.
Like some of the four other suspects still at large, Salae has a record of involvement in the southern insurgency, according police. — AFP