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Thai Army Hunts Car Bomb Suspects

PATTANI: Thailand’s military said it was hunting four suspects over a large car bomb which wounded more than 60 people outside a supermarket in the insurgency-plagued south.

The Muslim-majority border region has seethed with violence for over a decade as ethnic Malay insurgents battle the Buddhist-majority state for more autonomy. Bombings and shootings occur weekly.

But on Tuesday, two bombs – a small device followed by a much larger car bomb – went off outside a busy supermarket in the town of Pattani, the largest attack for months on a civilian target in the south.

Colonel Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for the southern army, said the investigation was focused on two people who allegedly rode up on a motorbike to drop off the first device, as well as two others who left the much bigger car bomb outside the supermarket.

“Please give us some time, we hope to arrest them very soon,” he said, adding that the perpetrators intended to “kill en masse and secondly to destroy the economy”.

Authorities said more than 60 people were wounded in the blast, some of them seriously, with 20 victims still in hospital yesterday.

Ethnic Malay militants have been fighting the military in Thailand’s three southernmost regions since 2004 after dozens of civilians died in army custody.

Some 6,800 people have since died in the conflict – most of them civilians – with both sides accused of rights abuses.

The region was annexed by Thailand more than a century ago and has long simmered with resentment over Bangkok’s push to assimilate the ethnically and linguistically distinct locals. — AFP

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