Three soldiers were left hospitalised by the bomb attack but with minor injuries including an officer working within a local government building who was hit by shrapnel from the blast. The operation by insurgents saw a green garbage collection truck hijacked 3 km south in the Mayo district by the attackers who fitted it with a large explosive device and drove to a nearby car park close to a significant security checkpoint in the north eastern Panare district of Pattani on Monday night.
A joint Thai military task force suspects that a local insurgent leader may have been behind a large bomb attack on a security checkpoint in the Panare district of Pattani on Monday night which left three police officers with minor injuries and caused substantial damage to nearby buildings. It was the second attack in the southern province within hours, with a grenade attack earlier on a security installation in Yala province.
On Tuesday morning, senior Thai police and military officers inspected the scene of a large bomb that went off on Monday night in the Panare district of Pattani, in southern Thailand, after a six-wheel garbage collection truck was hijacked by masked men in the Mayo district of the province and driven to the other district near the Chantharak Police Checkpoint on Highway 42 or the main road from Pattani to Narathiwat province.
The bomb is reported to have exploded at 9.15 pm with the alarm raised within 15 minutes as emergency services responded to the scene amid a power blackout.
Blast caused a blackout leading police to cordon off the area and suspend their investigation until Tuesday morning after confirming no further devices
The blast blew out local power and lighting to the area so police were forced to cordon off the scene on Monday night so that it could be properly examined on Tuesday morning.
However, a bomb disposal team at the location in the immediate aftermath of the attack were able to confirm that the extensively damaged and mangled remains of the truck contained no further devices.
These military experts said that the blast, which caused damage primarily in a 100-metre circumference but also impacted buildings up to 500 metres from the explosion, was caused by a substantial 50 lb bomb.
Three policemen suffered relatively minor injuries in the large bomb attack and taken to hospital
It is reported that three policemen were injured in the blast including one who was stationed in the nearby Kuan Subdistrict Administrative Organisation building with two others at the nearby checkpoint which is believed to have been the target of the attack.
Thankfully, all injuries were of a relatively minor nature
Police Lieutenant Colonel Nattakit Chiengchan was hit by shrapnel in several places and was taken to Pattani Hospital for treatment by locals responding to the incident.
On Tuesday morning, Major General Uthit Anantananon, the deputy commander of the 4th Army Region and Police Lieutenant General Nanthadej Yoinuan, the Chief of Provincial Police Region 9 both visited the scene of the blast and later the injured policemen in hospital.
Swift response to the attack on Monday night and Tuesday by joint police-military task force in Pattani
A joint army police task force also reacted to the attack by mounting an operation in the Mayo district of Pattani province where the green garbage collection truck, used to carry out the bomb attack, had been hijacked.
Intelligence sources, in recent days, had alerted authorities to an effort to procure explosives by known subversives and the manufacture of an explosive device for an attack in that district in an operation linked to a known insurgent leader suspected of being behind the blast.
Earlier attack in Yala thwarted by security net
The attack on the checkpoint and the government precinct in the Panare district of Pattani on Monday night was preceded by a smaller bomb or grenade attack on a security operations base in Yala province in the Raman district at approximately 7 pm.
A motorcyclist drove near the base and hurled the bomb which detonated when it was caught by a net fence surrounding the enclosed defensive position thereby causing no damage or injuries.
The attack in Pattani left extensive damage after the green utility vehicle was destroyed by the improvised explosive fitted to it earlier by a gang of what are thought to be insurgents linked to a known local activist and leader.
The checkpoint defensive position and the Pattani Provincial Land Office Building were extensively damaged along with numerous homes nearby.
Police sources identify the insurgent leader behind the attack on Monday night as Abdulhadi Dahamang
On Tuesday, a police investigative team, with some confidence, identified the leader of Monday night’s attack as Abdulhadi Dahamang or ‘Abdul Hadi’ who is already the subject of numerous arrest warrants linked with criminal and insurgent activity in the region.
Intelligence reaching authorities suggests that heightened activity linked to this insurgent leader’s organisation was seen within 72 hours of the attack.
It is not known how many insurgents took part in Monday night’s operation which began in the Mayo district when the garbage collection vehicle, manned by four workers, was attacked by masked men.
Four municipal workers tied up in hijack
The insurgents tied up the four municipal employees and made them lie face down in a forested area beside the road before taking the green six-wheeled truck northwards to the Panare district.
The hijacking took place approximately 3 km from the site of the bomb blast.
The vehicle itself was the property of the Langa Subdistrict Administrative Organisation in Mayo district in the eastern central area of the province, south of Panare where the large explosive device went off over an hour later.
Bomber ran from the garbage truck to waiting motorbike at a distance and detonated the device
Eye witness accounts and CCTV imagery being examined closely by police, suggest that one of the insurgents rode a motorbike behind the garbage truck which was left in a car park near the checkpoint and government building, sometime around 9 pm.
The driver of the garbage truck got out then ran to the motorbike parked at a distance and detonated the device from there before escaping as a pillion passenger.
PTT station manager shocked by Monday night’s attack when lights went out and it felt like a war zone
Ms Aziah Hayite is the manager of a PTT convenience store and petrol station forecourt located near the blast site on Monday night which also suffered catastrophic damage.
She said her first reaction was one of shock as the bomb was detonated near her premises badly damaging everything in its wake and leaving stock strewn all over the place.
She had to summon friends to come and help afterwards.
She said she had never experienced anything so terrifying especially because all the lights just went out.
It suddenly felt like a war zone.
Fortunately, there were only two customers
She said it was fortunate that her shop and forecourt area were not that busy with only two customers on the site when the explosion went off.
For some time after the blast, the customers cowered in the shop fearing what was going to happen next as a sense of terror took over.
Police Major General Narin, the Pattani police commander, said that the joint task force between the police and the army responded quickly to the attack.
A wide area near the target site of the bomb was sealed off by checkpoints with instructions to check all vehicles travelling in any direction.