Cops find dead body of bomb truck owner
The dead body of Nuson Khachornkham, the owner of a pickup truck which was stolen and later used in Tuesday’s bomb attack at a Big C Supercenter in Pattani’s Muang district, was found dumped in a watercourse in Pattani’s Nong Chik district yesterday, local police said.
A total of 61 people were wounded in the blasts including four people who sustained severe injuries. Among the four seriously injured victims was a five-year-old girl.
Nong Chik police were alerted around 4.15pm yesterday about the discovery of Nuson’s body and an explosive ordnance disposal squad was then sent to the scene because of fears insurgents may have placed more bombs there.
Nuson was a resident of Muang district in neighbouring Yala province.
The latest bomb blasts were apparently intended to demonstrate both the capacity and the independence of the group behind it, said Col Peerawach Saengthong, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).
The fact that a pickup truck was used in the Big C car bomb only a few hours after it was stolen and that it had not been modified came as a new challenge to security authorities, he said.
Since 2004, a total of 52 car bombs have been reported in the deep South, 13 times in Pattani, 12 in Yala, 23 in Narathiwat, three in Songkhla and once in Surat Thani’s Koh Samui district, a source said.
Security authorities yesterday continued hunting for Makoseng Ma-ae, 25, the first suspect to have an arrest warrant issued for him in connection with the Big C attack.
Citing information taken from the database of criminal suspects in security cases in the South, a security source said this particular suspect is a key young figure in the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) insurgent group.
Mr Makoseng travelled in the stolen pickup truck to the blast scene before fleeing on the back of a motorcycle nearby, said the same source, adding that the suspect was caught on security camera wearing a black shirt, a black pair of trousers and a pair of dark sunglasses.
Fourth Army commander Piyawat Nakwanich, meanwhile, said an Islamic teacher detained for questioning in connection with the Big C attack had confessed to being the person seen cleaning up bloodstains in the pickup used in the bombing at the Big C shopping centre.
He named eight people as being involved in the theft of the pickup truck and said one of them was the president of a tambon administration organisation in Nong Chik district of Pattani who has already been questioned by the authorities along with five others who are among those eight, Lt Gen Piyawat said.
A highly placed security source, however, said the Islamic teacher is Suhaiming Sama-ae who took the blood-soaked body of Nuson to a mosque where he transferred the body to a different car and then transported it to be disposed of.
Although the tambon administration organisation president and four others denied any involvement in the death of Nuson when they were questioned yesterday by security officials, the same source said he strongly believed they were connected to it.
Lt Gen Piyawat said Mr Suhaiming was invited in for questioning after witnesses insisted he was the person who handled the dead body of Nuson.
Mr Suhaiming only returned home in March in a programme run by Isoc Region 4 in an attempt to bring home those suspected of being involved with southern insurgent groups.
Pol Maj Gen Piyawat Chalermsri, the Pattani police chief, said Mr Makoseng, who is a Pattani resident, was also wanted by the police in at least three criminal cases including a previous bomb attack at the Berm noodle shop in Pattani’s Muang municipality.