3 insurgent groups suspected of role in deadly Sai Buri blast

A soldier points to part of a train track in Songkhla, where some 200 railway pegs were removed. An investigation is under way to try to determine if it was theft or an attempt by insurgents to derail a train.

Police, investigating a bomb attack on Friday that killed three policemen and injured 20 others near an the site of an annual fishing competition in Pattani's Sai Buri district, found the movements of three insurgent groups in the area three days ahead of the attack.

Meanwhile, Songkhla border patrolling police yesterday morning discovered that 200 nails on railway tracks in Ban Plakphetch, in Thepa district, had been removed. They urged the authority to investigate if this was related to the unrest in the deep South, or was a case of theft. The railway section was checked and repaired, facilitating the resumption of southern train services later in the afternoon.

Sai Buri superintendent Pol Colonel Panya Karawanant yesterday led a meeting of case investigators, which found that three insurgent groups led by Asman Jehba, Afandi Kafa and Sakariya Ba-ngo had been in tambon Taluban Municiplaity area in Sai Buri district three days earlier.

Police suspected that the three groups had some local sympathisers to plant the bomb. Four suspects have been apprehended for questioning.

On Friday, a remote-control bomb went off at 7pm near a police checkpoint tent, 200 metres from the area where the three-day competition's opening ceremony was about to begin.

The explosion killed Pol Lance Corporal Chanyuth Kaenphetch, Pol Lance Corporal Surasit Chareonpol, and Pol Lance Corporal Apirak Saefu, and wounded 20 others including seven police officers.

After the three policemen's bathing rites at Wat Noppawongsaram in Pattani's Muang district yesterday, the body of Surasit was later flown by helicopter to his hometown Ranong, while Chanyuth's body was sent to Songkhla.

Pattani Governor Wittaya Panitchpong visited three injured people at Pattani Hospital. Five wounded people were at Somdet Phra Yupparat Hospital in Sai Buri district, while 12 of the other injured had been released home.

Meanwhile, PM Yingluck Shinawatra's security adviser, Lt-General Paradorn Pattanatabut, told AFP that security officials in the three southernmost provinces were on heightened alert ahead of the 10th anniversary of a raid on a mosque in Pattani that left 32 insurgents dead on April 28. "But the area is very large," he told AFP.

"Every year militants will stage attacks to display their strength," he said. "The suspension of the peace dialogue has made them exploit the situation and the weakness of the government because of the protests," Paradorn said.