Some of the five suspects accused of carrying out the car-bomb attack at the Central Festival mall on Koh Samui earlier this month are being interrogated in military custody in a bid to identify the mastermind behind the attack, police have said.
Arrest warrants were issued on Sunday for the five based on the emergency decree in the deep South, which gave the military the power to detain them, police spokesman Lt-General Prawut Thawornsiri said yesterday.
Prawut said officials did not want to give the media too many details about the arrests for fear that suspects still at large might flee the area. This could pose more difficulty for investigators seeking to track down the people who are key to finding the mastermind.
The five suspects have been identified as Asmin Katemmadee, 27, Abdulloh Samae, 25, Hakeem Dohloh, 31, and Ammar Waedaramae, 27, all of Pattani, and Muhammadyakee Salae, 34, of Yala.
They allegedly acquired the vehicles used in the attack on the tourist island, off Surat Thani, on the night of April 10.
Three other suspects, including a used-car dealer, are also in military custody.
'Attack was political'
National police chief Pol General Somyot Poompanmoung affirmed the motive for the attack was political, with the authorities ruling out that it was carried out because of the southern unrest or a personal business conflict.
He said investigators knew the identity of the possible mastermind but had not acted due to insufficient evidence.
He said the attack was more refined than car-bomb attacks carried out as part of the southern insurgency.
The culprits shifted from procuring vehicles in the region to use in attacks to getting second-hand cars in Bangkok and other provinces - a new trend that must be monitored.
Today marks the 11th anniversary of the Krue Se Mosque incident, in which 32 militants were killed.
As a result, Somyot said he had instructed police in deep South to be mindful for possible attacks today