Thai authorities step up APEC security after Deep South bombings

Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET on 2022-11-16

Authorities have stepped up security around the Bangkok venue of a leadership summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum following nighttime bomb and arson attacks in Thailand’s Deep South, officials said Wednesday.

The attacks on Tuesday night in Pattani and Yala provinces injured one person. On Wednesday night, a police officer was injured in another bombing in Pattani, officials said, while two pipe-bomb explosions were reported in neighboring Narathiwat, another of the provinces in Thailand’s troubled southern border region. No one was injured in the Narathiwat attacks.

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In the Thai capital, as many as 50,000 security forces are being deployed around the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center and delegates’ accommodations, a security officer told BenarNews. The officer requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Meanwhile, a Defense Ministry spokesman said all security units should stay alert.

“Any violence in the Deep South or elsewhere ruins the image of the country and all Thai people,” Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanich told reporters on Wednesday. “All intelligence and security units must stay alert and follow any trace of perpetrator groups in and outside of the areas.”

Kongcheep’s comments followed a firebomb attack at a gas station in Muang district of Pattani province late Tuesday that injured one civilian. At least two other bomb and arson attacks took place around the same time elsewhere in Pattani and in Yala province. No one was hurt.

Previously, a soldier and a civilian were killed and three people were injured in two separate attacks on Sunday in Narathiwat.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

The Muslim-majority, Malay-speaking Deep South is the scene of a long-running, separatist insurgency.

While the violence is generally confined to the four provinces in that region, it has occasionally strayed outside of the Deep South.

In August 2019, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main insurgent group, was blamed for a series of small bombings in Bangkok during a ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. At least seven people were injured.

Police arrested two suspects from the Deep South and issued warrants for four others. The BRN denied involvement.

This week’s APEC meetings include ministerial-level talks on Thursday before a leadership summit on Friday and Saturday. Top leaders or deputies from 19 countries along with Taiwan and Hong Kong are expected to attend.

Among the attendees will be Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will hold a bilateral meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha. The United States will be represented by Vice President Kamala Harris.

On Wednesday, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan vowed that authorities would not allow any elements to disrupt the high-level meetings.

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