BANGKOK — Three men were arrested in connection with a bomb attack that injured five people close to a pro-democracy rally earlier this month, police said Friday.
Weerayut Sumritruangsri, 30, Pornchai Prakapuang, 23, and Nuttasut Siriaut, 19, were accused of throwing a ping pong bomb at police officers in front of Chamchuri Square building on Jan. 16. Police said the three are members of the protesters’ security network “Gear of Democracy,” which consists mainly of current and former polytechnic students.
“The suspects confessed that they’re members of the Gear of Democracy group,” metropolitan police commander Pakkapong Pongpetra said. “They said they built the device themselves and intended to disrupt police operations.”
The trio were apprehended on Thursday after a court issued an arrest warrant for them.
Police said the suspects went up the overpass over Samyan Intersection on a motorbike and threw the bomb into a group of police officers. The blast wounded three policemen, a reporter for The Standard online news site, and another civilian, Lt. Gen. Pakkapong said.
Investigators said evidence implicating the three includes CCTV footage.
At the time of the explosion, demonstrators were gathering across the street in front of Samyan Mitrtown mall. The protesters were calling for the release of activists who were arrested earlier on that day for campaigning against the royal defamation law.
Some of them retreated to Chamchuri Square after riot police moved in to disperse the crowd.
A similar incident was also reported on Nov. 25, when a device believed to be firecrackers went off while protesters were leaving their rally in front of the Siam Commercial Bank’s headquarters.
No one was arrested, even though the assailants were captured live on camera by The Standard news site while they carried out the attack.
Pakkapong said investigators are gathering evidence to see whether the suspects arrested for the Samyan explosion are connected to the previous attacks. “The suspects only confessed to this case,” Pakkapong said.
The three men were charged with assault, causing an explosion, carrying weapons into residential areas without reasonable causes, and illegal possession of explosives.
The “Guard Coalition for the People,” an umbrella group consisting of 10 different guard units, said in an online statement that the group is not involved in the attack.
“We will let the people decide about the results of investigation,” the group tweeted. “We are not involved in the bombing, but we must ensure that [the suspects] are safe.”
The Gear of Democracy group has yet to comment on the matter.