Thai police name 1 man as suspect in tourist spot bombings

Thai police name 1 man as suspect in tourist spot bombings

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BANGKOK (AP) — Thai police said Friday they have obtained an arrest warrant for a suspect in last week's bombing and arson attacks that killed four people and wounded several dozen.

Police spokesman Col. Krisana Pattanacharoen announced that a warrant had been issued for a man named Ahama Lengha because there was clear evidence linking him to the Aug. 11 and 12 attacks in seven provinces. Ahama is suspected of planting a bomb in Phuket's Patong beach district, a popular tourist destination.

The government has not specified who it believes was behind the attacks but analysts strongly suspect they were carried out by southern separatists.

Ahama comes from Narathiwat, one of Thailand's three southernmost provinces where a Muslim separatist insurgency that flared in 2004 has taken more than 6,000 lives.

A second reported arrest has not been confirmed.

Also on Friday, the army turned over to police custody 15 people they accused of forming a gang with the apparent intention of stirring up political trouble. The military had detained those suspects and two others in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and media reports based on police leaks had speculated of links between the detainees and the attacks.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and the national police chief on Friday denied the two cases were linked.

The main charge against the 15 and two other people not currently in custody is being members of a criminal organization. The police's Crime Suppression Division said they were members of previously unknown group called the Revolutionary Front for Democracy Party, with the objective of opposing the military government. Police said they had been tracking the group since last December. Nine of the 17 are 60 years or older, including two who are 71.

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