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. Picture of Thailand bombing suspect caught on video: air force
BANGKOK (AFP) Apr 04, 2005
Authorities investigating three bombings that killed two people and injured almost 80 people in Thailand's restive south said Monday they have an image of a bombing suspect taken from a security camera.

The attacks, which injured four foreigners, were followed on Monday afternoon by a bombing in Yala province that injured four soldiers including one seriously.

The bombings come after a week of efforts to reduce tension in southernmost Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces, where almost daily violence has claimed more than 630 lives since January last year.

The Hat Yai airport bombing suspect's picture was captured on closed circuit television on Sunday, Air Chief Marshal Kongsak Vantana told reporters but declined to give any further details.

The airport bomb killed two people. Two other bombs exploded almost simultaneously at a Carrefour supermarket and a hotel in the southern city of Hat Yai, Songkhla province, which until Sunday had been spared the serious violence that has wracked the three other provinces.

Thai officials vowed Monday to boost airport security to levels already in force in Bangkok.

"The air force will cooperate with the aviation department and the airport authority of Thailand to strengthen measures to provide security for airports, especially in Chiang Mai, Hat Yai and Phuket where there are many tourists," Kongsak said.

"There is nothing to worry about in Bangkok as we are already strict on security," he added.

Interior minister Chidchai Vanasathidya said the justice ministry had dispatched teams from its special investigation department to help local police.

Chidchai vowed to implement the same stringent security measures used for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here in 2003 to deter future attacks.

"To make people confident about security, we will bring back security measures used during APEC meeting and adjust it to focus on combat intelligence," he said.

Monday's bomb exploded at about 1:00 pm (0600 GMT) at a car park in a Yala technical college where an army car was parked.

"It is possible that the attackers aimed to attack soldiers as the area was a stand-by point for soldiers," Yala police general Sirichai Thanyasiri told

The bomb was not likely linked with Sunday's attacks "as the violence in the three provinces has been going on for a while," Sirichai said.

The Hat Yai bombings have sparked fears insurgents are trying to broaden their campaign from the three provinces bordering Malaysia.

Security forces also erected major checkpoints along main roads in southern Thailand, including on a key highway on the tourist isle of Phuket.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said his government would not use force to retaliate against the perpetrators of bombings, and declined to specifically blame the Islamic separatists for the blasts.

"Even though the attackers use violence, the government will maintain its peaceful measures," Thaksin told reporters in Bangkok.

Thaksin last week made unusually conciliatory comments, including saying on Thursday that he would consider scaling back the military presence in the region.

But national police chief General Kowit Wattana said police believed the attacks were linked to the ongoing insurgency.

"Police believe they were linked with militants in the those three provinces," he added.

Security concerns plus soaring oil prices, made traders on the Stock Exchange of Thailand nervous, with Thai share prices closing 1.91 percent lower on Monday.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand composite index lost 13.31 points to 682.49 points and the blue-chip SET 50 index was down 1.09 points at 47.39.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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