Security was beefed up in the southern border province of Pattani yesterday following separate bomb attacks at four restaurants and bars in Muang district on Friday evening, which killed one waitress and injured two others.
The authorities yesterday said the bombs were made of the same components and concluded that they were carried out by the same group.
The southern unrest has left 5,634 people dead and 10,554 injured from January 1, 2004 up till Friday, the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Region 4 said.
Last month, October, there were 39 attacks - 17 shootings, eight bombings, eight disturbances and six arson attacks - in Yala Pattani and Narathiwat. Nine people were killed and 23 others injured.
The affected restaurants and nearby shops were closed yesterday, as security officers were deployed to provide security to residential areas and to set up checkpoints on roads to screen incoming and outgoing people from the city area.
Pattani police chief Pol Colonel Tuande Juthanant said time bombs were used in the attacks with same components such as IC timer, metal pipe and 1.5v/9v batteries.
They were planted five minutes before exploding.
Isoc spokesman Banphot Poonpien said Army chief General Udomdej Seetabutr had expressed concern and instructed Isoc Region 4 Forward Command to beef up security and for police to speedily investigate the bombings to punish the culprits.
The order was in line with those from the Army Region 4 chief and the Isoc Region 4 director.
"These blasts show that the insurgents aim to use violence against unarmed people in disregard to their religion or the humanitarian principles, so the public should condemn and reject such acts of violence no matter how justified it was in terms of ideology or political views," he added.
Also on Friday evening, five cellular towers were set on fire in Bacho, Rue So and Yi Ngo districts in Narathiwat province.
The police, bomb squad and forensic officers went to inspect the scenes yesterday morning, as they feared the insurgents might have set traps. Rue So saw two towers torched, one of which was an AIS GSM tower that was badly damaged.
Yi Ngo saw two DTAC towers burned while Bacho saw a True Move tower torched, but the damage was minor because local residents managed to put out the flames in time.
Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesperson for Isoc Region 4 Forward Command, echoed fellow security officers' comments about similarities in the bombs.
He said Udomdej had instructed the Pattani Task Force and district-level operative centres to contain the situation while urging police to gather evidence to punish the bombers.
The Army Region 4 chief also ordered the setting up of more checkpoints at random times and intensified security in economic areas and military outposts, he said.
Manthaka Naratchakan, owner of Sai Rung Restaurant where 17-year-old Laotian waitress Muey Ridthichai was killed, said she was having a meal when some teenager came in to drop the bomb and then fled. Seeing the bomb, the owner alerted everyone to run but the waitress went back to get her cellphone when the bomb exploded, killing her.
"This is the first time something like this has happened at my shop. I have to think before deciding whether to resume the business. I'm still very frightened," she said, adding the waitress's parents had been informed and they would arrive in a few days to take custody of her body.
"Her family is poor and she was a good girl. I am sad about what happened," she added.
5,634 deaths, 10,554 injuries: Insurgency-related casualties between January 1, 2004 and the end of October this year.