Local official arrested and another hunted in Yala bomb probe. A young engineer is questioned by the military after a deadly explosion, while a second official has vanished.

A young local authority engineer was transferred to the interrogation centre at the 41st Military Regiment in Yala on Monday after his arrest on Sunday night. Twenty-seven-year-old Mustafa Ma-hae, who worked at the local Administrative Organisation, was in control of the official vehicle used to explode a devastating device in Bannang Sata on Sunday. The blast killed a 45-year-old teacher and mother of three. Police have also revealed that the suspect is the brother-in-law of a key insurgency actor. In the meantime, a second official at the local authority, identified as Mr Maropi Hama, who reportedly borrowed the keys to the vehicle from Mr Mustafa, has gone to ground.

Security agencies in Southern Thailand are questioning a 27-year-old civil engineer, an official at the Thanto Subdistrict Administrative Organization who is the main suspect in the bomb attack which killed a middle-aged teacher and injured 34 others on Sunday morning in the Bannang Sata district of Yala province. (Source: Bannang Sata Police and Thai Rath).

Security services in Yala province have arrested an assistant civil engineer with the local authority in the Bannang Sata district following last Sunday’s devastating bomb explosion.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mustafa Ma-hae worked as an assistant civil engineer at the Thanto Subdistrict Administrative Organization. He was the last known person to have driven the vehicle in which the explosive device was packed.

Arrested young engineer, the last to drive the four-door official vehicle used by the bombers revealed as the brother-in-law of a wanted insurgency figure

In addition, security officials have revealed that Mr Mustafa is the brother-in-law of a key insurgency figure, Mr Wae-usman Wae-mong, who is already the subject of an arrest warrant issued under the Criminal Procedure Code.

Mr Mustafa was arrested on Sunday evening following an interview between the Joint Special Operations Unit in Yala Province and local officials.

Previously, investigators discovered that the vehicle used to detonate the bomb was an official one. The blue Toyota, license plate number Kor Kor 3302 Yala, was registered with the local Administrative Organization.

Mayor Ari Samae told them that three people had access to the keys, including Mr Mustafa. On Sunday, he was confirmed as the last driver. The young official had taken the vehicle on June 29th.

Second suspect identified, as another official at Thanto Subdistrict Administrative Organization, who allegedly asked for the keys to the vehicle before the blast

However, after his arrest, Mr Mustafa identified a second suspect. This was 45-year-old Mr Maropi Hama. Mr Maropi is from the Airong District of Narathiwat province. He reportedly retrieved the keys from Mr Mustafa at the local district office near the blast site before the bomb went off.

The apartment complex was just a hundred metres from both the district office and the police station. Investigators told reporters that the official vehicle had not been reported stolen and therefore was not considered suspicious.

Local police investigators at Bannang Sata Police Station reported that the car was seen travelling out of the area on June 29th.

The next morning, Sunday, June 30th, it was seen heading for Bannang Sata and was parked outside a building used by police for accommodation. Afterwards, a motorcycle with a man wearing black and an orange undershirt picked up the driver.

Massive 80 kg explosive device packed into the official blue Toyota pickup by bombers, driven to the police apartment complex in Bannang Sata and parked

Security agencies have revealed that the device packed into the four-door pickup weighed approximately 80kg.

It exploded with massive force shortly afterwards. The device went off at 10.15 am.

The blast destroyed up to 30 motorcycles and vehicles parked nearby.

At the same time, 45-year-old teacher Ms Rokiyah Sarana was passing on her motorbike.

The blast blew the woman apart and her remains were consumed in the ensuing conflagration.

Woman dies in massive fireball caused by Yala explosion in Bannang Sata near busy police living quarters

Ms Rokiyah was a mother of three and a teacher at the local Tadika School and Kampong Da Lae Mosque in Bannang Sata.

Afterwards, Mr Mustafa was taken by security forces to the interrogation centre at the 41st Military Regiment.

This is located in Wang Phaya Camp, Wang Phaya Subdistrict in the Raman District of Yala.

Murdered woman’s family receive compensation and her children’s education will be supported by the State up to bachelor’s degree level say local officials

Meanwhile, officials visited Ms. Rokiyah’s distraught family at Village No. 2, Tambon Bajoe, Amphoe Bannang Sata. 

The murdered woman’s husband and three children will each receive ฿500,000 in compensation.

Furthermore, the education of the teacher’s three children will be supported by the state until they attain a bachelor’s degree.

Officials also visited the injured at Bannang Sata Hospital. They include 23 police officers and 11 members of the public including family members.

In the meantime, the second suspect, Mr Maropi Hama, has disappeared. He is currently being tracked down by security agencies.

Locals assisting the attackers warned

The investigation is being overseen by Provincial Police Region 9 commander, Police Lieutenant General Piyawat Chalermsri, and the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4. 

The public is being urged to report any suspicious circumstances to hotline numbers. 

At the same time, there is a warning.

Senior officials emphasise that anyone found aiding or abetting the perpetrators is liable to be prosecuted.

Those providing shelter, food, or assistance to such individuals are subject to prosecution under Section 189 of the Criminal Code.

Certainly, the insurgency outrage on Sunday has exposed the depths of the conflict in Thailand’s troubled southern provinces.

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Further reading:

Woman dies in massive fireball caused by Yala explosion in Bannang Sata near busy police living quarters

Motorcycle bomb blast seriously injures four in southern Narathiwat province in insurgency attack on town centre

Narathiwat bomb explosion leaves one senior police officer dead. PM demands tighter security

Pattani bombs put Thai security agencies on alert as they gear up for APEC Summit in Bangkok

Top insurgent leader suspected as behind Monday night’s large bomb attack on Pattani district

2 killed in 15-minute firefight between security forces and insurgents as Pattani siege is ended

Killer gang linked to murdered family holed up at a Pattani resort but refuse to surrender peacefully to task force