PATTANI — The owner of a pickup truck used in a large car bomb was found dead Thursday as two suspects were arrested in connection with the attack, which injured 61 people, according to a police commander.
“Two people are currently under custody of the security forces,” said Pattani police commander Piyawat Chalermsri, before clarifying that meant the army. “They have given us helpful information. Their information has been very beneficial to the investigation.”
The pair were reportedly arrested the same day police found the missing owner of the truck used in the attack on Big C shopping center on Tuesday. Police said the bombing was a work of a local secessionist group.
One of the detainees is a man who “coordinated and commanded” the bombing, while the other is an imam at a mosque where the separatists are suspected of murdering 44-year-old Nuson Khachornkam, the pickup truck driver, and stole his vehicle, according to Maj. Gen. Piyawat.
The major general said the two are being held at an army base under martial law, which grants soldiers the authority to detain any individuals without warrants. The southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat have been under martial law since secessionist violence broke out there in 2004.
The bomb wounded 61 people, three seriously, but there were no fatalities. Among the victims were women and children, prompting several human rights groups to condemn the attack. No one has claimed responsibility, though police said evidence points to separatist militants.
Police said Nuson was ambushed and killed after being lured to a mosque in Pattani’s Nong Chik district on the pretense of getting a job.
More than 6,800 people have died in the conflict since 2004, many of them civilians.