Prawit Says ‘Southern Groups’ Responsible for Bangkok Bombs

EOD police inspect a suspected explosive device at a bus stop in Bangkok on Aug. 3, 2019. It turned out to be a false alarm.

BANGKOK — A top government official said on Tuesday he believes groups based in Thailand’s restive Southern region are behind a recent bombing spree in Bangkok.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the plot appears to involve “multiple people,” though he neglected to elaborate. His remark came days after two men from a province known for separatist violence were arrested in connection with Friday’s bombings.

“Yes, we do,” Gen. Prawit said when asked whether he has any idea who the perpetrators are. “They are from the southern groups.”

When a reporter asked whether the authorities have found a link to politics, the deputy PM said, “Not yet. We’re still investigating. We don’t know yet. Many people were involved.”

His statements marked the first time government officials publicly suggested southern militants are connected to Friday’s explosions and fire bomb attacks across the capital. The violence coincided with an ASEAN summit attended by numerous foreign delegates, including those from the United States.

Media reports quoting unnamed officials previously said two men from Narathiwat province confessed they staged the attacks as revenge for military operations in the region, but the authorities quickly disputed the reports. 

The secessionist violence has been mostly confined to the three southern border provinces, though it is believed the rebels have taken the bombing campaign north several times. 

A series of bomb attacks across the southern region during the Mother’s Day holiday period in 2016, which killed four people, were attributed to the shadowy militants.

Speaking today, Gen. Prawit said further investigations are needed.

“Be patient,” the deputy PM said. “We have to find out how they traveled, and where they got the bombs from. Wait for now.”

Friday’s bombings also reignited a feud between pro-government MP Parina Kraikup and opposition spokeswoman Pannika Wanich, with the former publicly accusing the latter of having links to the attacks.

Future Forward’s Pannika rejected the allegation. Her aides said she will file libel charges against Parina this week.