15 in cus­tody not linked to bomb­ings

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A GROUP of 15 sus­pects de­tained by the Thai mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­gat­ing last week’s deadly tourist re­sort at­tacks were not in­volved in the blasts, po­lice said, adding to con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the case.

The junta said on Au­gust 18 that the de­tainees had been held dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bomb­ing spree, which hit tourist towns in the south, killing four and wound­ing dozens, in­clud­ing Euro­peans.

But the fol­low­ing day po­lice of­fi­cials said the group – many of whom are el­derly – had in­stead set up an il­le­gal net­work aimed at over­throw­ing the regime and were un­con­nected to last week’s at­tacks.

Thai­land’s deputy junta chief also ap­peared to back that as­ser­tion.

The bombs were un­usual in a coun­try where for­eign­ers and tourist towns are rarely caught up in the coun­try’s fre­quent bouts of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have been un­der pres­sure to make quick ar­rests given tourism is so cru­cial to the econ­omy.

The group ap­peared at a po­lice sta­tion here on Au­gust 19 es­corted by sol­diers – the first time they have been seen in public – to hear the charges against them.

Two are women and many of the men are in their 60s and 70s.

Thai me­dia had run re­ports quot­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors as say­ing the group helped co­or­di­nate the re­cent at­tacks.

But Ma­jor Gen­eral Chayaphol Chatchaidej, a se­nior of­fi­cial at the Office of Po­lice Strat­egy, said yes­ter­day they were not in­volved.

“There is no ev­i­dence link­ing them to the bomb at­tacks in the seven south­ern prov­inces ... al­though some of them are in­volved with lese ma­jeste [royal defama­tion] and arms traf­fick­ing,” he said. –

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