By Mariyam Ahmad and Matahari Ismail
Highway police in Thailand’s Deep South on Thursday arrested a suspected insurgent who was attempting to smuggle dozens of homemade bombs from a town along the Malaysian border to inner areas of Narathiwat province, officials said.
Zanuzi Yatae was driving a bomb-laden pickup truck from Sungai Kolok town to Yi-ngor, a district in Narathiwat, before encountering a police checkpoint and getting arrested, according to the provincial police chief. An alleged accomplice escaped.
“These improvised explosive devices were trucked from a neighboring country by the insurgents for attacks on targets in the Deep South,” said Maj. Manas Sikasamat, who oversees the Narathiwat provincial police bureau.
On Thursday afternoon, Zanuzi and the suspected accomplice were speeding along Takbai Sungai Kolok route when they saw a checkpoint in Saring village. They stopped the truck and ran from the scene, according to highway police.
Police found 41 explosive devices made from metal tubes and timing devices, along with walkie-talkies and other devices.
Manas said Zanuzi identified the other suspect as Abdulaziz Samoe.
“Zanuzi admitted that he is responsible for transporting the bombs from Sungai Kolok for delivery to another group in the Yi-ngor district of Narathiwat,” Manas said while observing the check point.
Following the arrest and while preparing for possible attacks, Lt. Gen. Keukul Innachak, deputy commander for Thailand’s southern region, ordered increased security measures.
Nine Ramadan attack suspects arrested
On May 20, 16 bombs exploded within 50 minutes in four provinces in the insurgent-wracked Deep South. Officials said those responsible aimed at disrupting peace talks and the Ramadan observance.
Two days later, a Deep South military spokesman said a suspected bomber, Waegoyi Taleh, 28, was arrested. Waegoyi has been identified as a leader of a field militant cell locally known as RKK (Runda Kumpulan Kecil), a tactical arm of the rebel group Barisan Revolusi Nasional.
Senior military official said following Waegoyi’s capture, authorities were able to identify 13 suspects, arresting eight who were linked with attacks in Pattani province.
Pattani is one of the provinces in the Deep South, where nearly 7,000 people have died in violence since a separatist insurgency re-ignited in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking region 14 years ago.
Maj. Gen. Jatuporn Kalumpasut, the commander of Pattani Task Force, said four of the eight suspects confessed to having a hand in the May 20 attacks. Four others said they were involved in previous attacks in Pattani but not those that day.
Meanwhile on Thursday, police, the provincial governor and Jatuporn brought alleged bomb trainer Suhaimi Masae and alleged trainee Mayusof Masae to reenact a blast, a formality after suspects admit wrong-doing.
“He asked me to press this switch and the light will be on … he taught me to make trigger circuitry, he trained us one by one,” Mayusof Masae told police, referring to Suhaimi Masae, as he reenacted the crime at a residence in Pattani’s Yarang district where they were trained.
Police did not say if the suspects were related.
Mayusof Masae’s mother said she did not know her son was linked with insurgents until he was arrested and she visited him at a military inquiry center in Pattani.
“He went to a Pondok school, I never knew he did this. Had I known, I would not let him do this,” she told BenarNews.