Police have obtained footage from a surveillance camera showing a number of alleged suspects in Friday night's bombing on Koh Samui travelling to the island in two vehicles on Friday morning before the explosion at the Central Festival shopping mall, a police inspector-general said yesterday.
Pol Lt-General Suchart Theerasawas, the lead investigator handling the mall explosion case, said the suspects were seen driving to Don Sak pier in Surat Thani province before boarding the 8am ferry to the island.
He said the assailants had most likely surveyed the underground car park in which the bomb went off. They entered the car park at around 10.24am and assembled the bomb in a silver-coloured four-door Mazda pickup truck.
A number of Central Festival shopping mall staff based in the South were detained for questioning, Suchart said, adding that the police are checking |the vehicle for evidence such as fingerprints and DNA on the truck's steering wheel.
A source said the explosion at Central Festival was possibly carried out by four accomplices who carried out the task in a coordinated manner.
A Central Festival employee responsible for closing the doors of the mall is also missing and being sought for questioning by the police, the source added.
A security source based in Yala identified a group of insurgents led by Ubaidillah Rommuhli as the most likely suspects. This group of insurgents robbed the Mazda truck in question in Yaha district on March 31. Ubaidillah is also believed to be behind a car bomb near Lee Garden in Songkhla's Hat Yai district last year.
The source said Ubaidillah was likely assisted by two groups of insurgents led by Abas Jeh-ali and Koseng Jehmah, who carried out similar bomb attacks using vehicles robbed from different places. They are likely responsible for a |car bomb in Yala's Betong district |in October last year.
Security officials |are tracking two suspected insur-|gents, Seri Wae-ma and Roslan Bai-ma, who are based in Pattani's Nong Chik district.
Army commander-in-chief General Udomdej Sitabutr repeated the initial analysis of security authorities who said that both incidents along with smaller fires at a convenience store in Phang Nga were politically motivated. They had nothing to do with insurgent violence spilling over from the deep South.
He said the fire at the Cooperative could have been caused by a number of disgruntled staff whose employment contracts had recently terminated.
"The motives behind the incidents were unlikely linked to the insurgency - but could have had something to do with politics or personal grudges," he said.
Police are also looking for a man who was seen entering the Cooperative depot compound in the province. They believe he was involved in a large fire that gutted the main building in the compound around the same time as the mall explosion.
Asked if the attacks were carried out by people unhappy with Article 44 of the interim charter, Udomdej, who is also a deputy defence minister, said if some people misunderstand the article and are unhappy with it, the military would consider that as a motive.
A list has been released of 12 vehicles, all pick-up trucks, that could possibly be used as vehicular bombs in the future that were robbed from the owners in ambushes orchestrated by insurgents.
National police chief Pol-General Somyot Poompanmuang said a man who posted a Facebook message about "him playing hard tonight at Surat Thani" before the mall explosion and the Cooperative fire was in military custody and would possibly be handed over to police if there is solid evidence against him.
Worachai Hema, a former Pheu Thai Party MP, said the man, Narin Amnongbua, whose Facebook name is M Redshirt, could have been a wannabe or merely seeking notoriety.
"Don't link him [as a red-shirt] to the incidents yet," Worachai said.