Two Thais held in M'sia with war weapons

THAILAND - Two Thai citizens have been arrested in Malaysia for reportedly having war weapons in their possession, according to reports from several sources at security agencies.

The sources suggested a possible link between these suspects and the ongoing violence in Thailand's deep South.

A police source identified the two as Mohamad bin Mat Daud and Jamanan bin Ahmad, both hailing from Yala province.

However, a military source from the deep South only said that Malaysian police had seized eight guns, including three assault rifles, ammunition, five bags of urea fertiliser (a precursor chemical for bombs) and bomb-making equipment from an unidentified Thai man.

"He was arrested on September 5 at a restaurant," this source said. "He's around 50 years old."

The source added that after further investigation, Malaysian police also arrested a Malaysian believed to be the owner of the site where the war weapons were found. According to the source, both suspects are now in Kedah police custody.

Meanwhile, speaking on condition of anonymity, a Thai security official said he believed the arrested suspects were linked to the unrest in Thailand's southernmost provinces.

"We are waiting for more information from Malaysian authorities," he said.

General Akanit Muensawas, an expert on security related to the Thai-Malaysia border zone, said authorities should keep a close watch on how Malaysia would proceed in this case. He said Malaysian authorities had managed to arrest some Thai suspects for whom warrants had been issued a few years ago. However, these suspects were later released.

"They were not handed over to Thai authorities," Akanit lamented.

The South has been struggling under an ongoing wave of violence for nearly a decade now.

In a bid to bring the unrest to an end, Thai authorities are now engaged in a peace dialogue with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional with Malaysia as dialogue facilitator.