Bomb, arson attacks on convenience stores injure 3 across Thai Deep South

A fire rages Tuesday night at a Banchak gas station in Pattani province. Photo: Pattani Provincial Police
A fire rages Tuesday night at a Banchak gas station in Pattani province. Photo: Pattani Provincial Police

Authorities are investigating a string of coordinated attacks on convenience stores and gas stations that injured at least three people late last night in the restive Deep South.

Bombs exploded at 11 locations across Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat provinces, where a longrunning insurgency has raged for nearly two decades in what seems the first major attack carried out by insurgent forces in years. There were no reported fatalities.

In Yala, witnesses said an unidentified man disguised with a hijab and carrying a black bag entered a 7-Eleven at a PTT gas station and said, “If you don’t want to die, then everyone get out.”

They complied. An explosion tore through the store 10 minutes later, sparking a fire that took firefighters 30 minutes to douse.

Three other locations in the province were hit including two other 7-Eleven branches in the Bannang Sata district and in Yala city, as well as a Mini Big C in the Raman district.

The attacks came just days after the sixth anniversary of a string of deadly attacks that targeted tourists, markets, and government locations across southern Thailand, including Hua Hin, on the birthday of Queen Mother Sirikit.

In Narathiwat province, two apparent bomb attacks struck a 7-Eleven and a Big C supermarket in the Cho-airong district. Over in Si Sakhon, a 7-Eleven branch was completely destroyed, injuring one. One migrant worker was recovering at a hospital after a bomb detonated inside a 7-Eleven convenience store at Bacho district.

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Authorities also reported that a fire broke out at a PTT gas station in the Su-ngai Kolok district.

Pattani province saw explosive fires broke out at a Bangchak gas station, causing three trucks to burst into flames, as well as another Mini Big C supermarket.

Big C and 7-Eleven stores are owned by Thailand’s largest family-run conglomerates: Central and CP, respectively.

Police were gathering evidence to move forward with an investigation. No groups were known to have taken credit for the attacks.

The unrelenting violence of the past 18 years had quieted during the pandemic, and representatives of insurgent umbrella group BRN had been meeting with representatives of the military-backed government as part of a long-stalled peace effort.

More than 7,300 people have been killed and 13,600 injured, according to monitors, since former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra deployed soldiers in the Deep South on an ill-conceived “pacification” mission that kicked off a slow-burning insurgency in 2004.

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