PATTANI — Police said Thursday they were still trying to find the owner of a pickup truck used in a bomb attack that wounded more than 60 people earlier this week.
Nuson Khachornkam, 44, was last seen by his family on Monday, a day before his vehicle, presumably hijacked by separatists, exploded at a Big C shopping center in Pattani. Tuesday’s attack has been condemned by authorities and human rights groups alike. Police suspect the perpetrators belonged to local separatist groups.
“We are still looking for him. He has not been found yet,” Piyawat Chalermsri, commander of Pattani police, said by telephone. “But his precise whereabouts are being narrowed now. We should have the exact location soon.”
Police previously said Nuson’s mobile phone remained on but no one had answered it. His family said Nuson’s work was erecting tents for festivities, and on Monday he had gone out on a job call.
The bomb wounded 61 people, three seriously, but no fatalities. Among the victims were women and children. Maj. Gen. Piyawat said a warrant has been issued for one of the alleged attackers, and police are applying for more warrants today.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the colonel said evidence point to secessionist militants, without naming any group in particular.
“They belong to the same group that has been operating in the region,” Piyawat said.
The attack was condemned not only by the government, but also by UNICEF’s office in Bangkok, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.
Speaking through BenarNews in Malaysia, a spokesman for an umbrella group of militant cells currently in negotiation with the Thai government said the bombing was unacceptable.
“Whoever they are, inflicting injuries on civilians in a public space is just unacceptable,” MARA Patani spokesman Abu Hafez Al-Hakim was quoted as saying.
The southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat have been rocked by waves of secessionist violence since early 2004, a conflict that has claimed more than 6,800 people, many of them civilians.
Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Piyawat Chalermsri as a police colonel. In fact, he is a police major general.