Police beef up security in Hat Yai for festival

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Cars being checked after bombs in pattani; two killed, five badly injured

SECURITY has been beefed up in Songkhla's Hat Yai district where a large number of tourists have descended for the city's famous Vegetarian Festival, following two roadside bomb attacks in Pattani yesterday.

Checkpoints were set up at three inbound routes - Petchkasem Highway, Kanchanawanit Road and Niphat Songkhro Road - to Hat Yai city to watch out for "suspicious" vehicles.

It was feared a Honda Click motorcycle had been strapped with explosives and was going to be used to hit an unconfirmed location, an informed source said.

Ten policemen from each of the 15 other districts in Songkhla, had been sent to Hat Yai as security backup, the source said.

The first attack in Tambon Manang Dalam, Sai Buri district, killed two rangers and seriously wounded five others. A sixth ranger escaped unharmed.

The he authorities believe explosives were packed into a 60kg to 80kg cooking cylinder buried in a pipe underneath the road.

It hit an armoured vehicle with the seven patrolling paramilitary rangers and volunteers at about 7.20am on Sai Buri-Kapor Road in Ban Manang Dalam Moo 1.

The explosion caused a 2.8-metre-wide and 1.2-metre-deep crater and killed ranger volunteers Pipatpong Chuayboonsong and Muhama Kaning. The explosion knocked the vehicle over.

Corporal Boonyameen Jehsani and ranger volunteers Ronnachai Chupan, Kiattisak Chaisit, Sarawut Khuiyoksui and Boonrit Kanchanarat were rushed to Crown Prince Sai Buri Hospital.

Another roadside bomb targeted the nine-strong "Wasukri" police special operations team as they travelled in a pickup truck en route to the first bomb attack.

The bomb exploded when they were about three kilometres from the scene but no one was hurt.

Police suspect that the attacks were either carried out by insurgents or drug traffickers.

An informed source said there had been more than 10 bomb attacks on Sai Buri-Kapor Road.

While the Islamic funeral for Muhama was carried out yesterday, Pipatpong's body underwent the bathing rite at Wat Suwannakorn in Nong Chik district before being transported by helicopter to his hometown in Nakhon Si Thammarat for the funeral.

In Narathiwat's Rangae district, Ban Kujing Leupa Moo 4's assistant village headman Saman Salae, 51, was shot dead yesterday afternoon while riding his motorcycle home from a fruit orchard.

Two men on another bike ambushed him and police suspect this was part of the ongoing unrest.

Meanwhile, Kirati Sani, 40, an assistant village headman in Mai Kaen district in Pattani, was shot and seriously wounded on Sunday night while riding a motor-|cycle back from a shift at a local administrative organisation office.

His attackers also rode on a motorcycle.