BANGKOK – Thai police said Monday they have sought Malaysia’s cooperation in investigating last week’s blasts in southern Thailand that killed four Thais and injured more than 30 people, including foreign tourists.
National Police Chief Chakthip Chaichinda told a press conference that Thai police asked their Malaysian counterparts for help after finding that one of the mobile phones used in the blasts does not come from Thailand.
His remarks came after Malaysia’s Bernama news agency reported that a mobile phone recovered from the debris of an explosion in Phuket, one of 10 blasts that occurred between Thursday and Friday in five southern provinces, has a Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission serial number still visible on it.
“Thai investigators have asked for Malaysia’s cooperation to identify the origin of the phone,” a security source was quoted as saying.
Chakthip also said police have made significant progress in their investigation into the blasts, though they are still trying to piece together the network of those responsible.
The police chief said a suspect has been arrested after being seen in CCTV footage near the scene of a fire in Nakhonsrithamrat Province, one of two arson attacks that occurred around the same time as the blasts. The suspect is being detained at a military camp on the basis of an arrest warrant, he said.
He said several others are being detained for interrogation, but they have not been named as suspects in the blasts, some of which hit the popular seaside tourist resorts of Phuket and Hua Hin.
It remains unclear if the attacks are related to a controversial referendum on a draft constitution held on Aug. 7, or if they are related to an insurgency that has plagued Thailand’s Deep South, namely the predominantly Muslim and ethnic Malay provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat that border Malaysia.
Thousands of people have been in bomb attacks and other violence since the insurgency began in 2004, though none of last week’s blasts took place in those three provinces.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters Monday that the bombings do not mark an expansion of the anti-government Islamic insurgency, though he acknowledged at the same time that they might involve people from the Deep South.
He said that while the motive remains unclear, it must be a domestic factor, not a foreign one.
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