Friday, February 10, 2012

Massive car bomb hits Pattani

Local authorities said the explosion was heard at 8.10am. It went off from a bomb possibly weighing about 30kg planted in a stolen pickup truck that had been parked in front of the provincial health office on Sarerk Road in Muang Pattani municipality for two days.
Shrapnel severely wounded a retired government official identified as Manit Uma. He lost his right arm and sustained serious head injuries. He died at Pattani Hospital later.
Two men aged 18 and 37 were seriously injured from shrapnel and severe burns. Eleven others were slightly injured, including two girls aged two and five. Most of them are local people.
The Isuzu pickup that carried the bomb bore fake licence plates. Investigators checked its engine number and found it belonged to a Pattani woman identified as Wachiraporn Maneechote. She had been attacked by gunmen in Nong Chik district of Pattani on Nov 27 last year and they had stolen her vehicle.
The explosion set fire to many vehicles and passers-by. The blast tore the Isuzu in half leaving the two sections 15 metres apart. It also damaged the provincial health office, a local educational office, residences of an assistant provincial governor and judicial authorities, and people's houses in a radius of 300 metres.
The location is packed with government offices and residences of high-ranking officials and the road is a frequent route for pupils and government officials. However, it exploded after children had reached school and before government officials left their homes.
Local authorities had been informed of a possible car bomb in downtown Pattani. They had stepped up security including road checkpoints around the clock from Feb 1 to 8 during the Lim Kor Niew Goddess Shrine Fair there.
Authorities said they believed the bomb was meant to target defence volunteers who would have used the road to gather at the Pattani provincial hall at 9am for an event marking the anniversary of the Territorial Defence Volunteers Administration.
However, nearly 1,000 defence volunteers took a detour.
The car bomb prompted Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri to instruct ministry staff in the deep South to step up safety measures at hospitals and health care units. He condemned those behind the bombing.
Another bomb exploded on the Ton Sai-Talo Halor Road in Bacho district of Narathiwat province at 7.50am yesterday. It is understood the bomb was intended to attack a group of six soldiers on three motorcycles returning from escorting local teachers to school. The blast injured a sergeant major and a private.
In Bangkok, the National Security Council (NSC) approved a policy to be implemented in the next three years for peace-keeping operations in the South.
NSC secretary-general Wichean Potephosree said the policy focused on peaceful solutions to violence in southern border provinces and would guide the operations of organisations such as the Internal Security Operations Command and the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre. The policy will be proposed to the cabinet on Feb 22.