Thai police say court attack linked to Bangkok mall bombing

AP News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2015 3:44 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's national police chief said Monday that two suspects arrested after a weekend grenade attack at a Bangkok courthouse were connected to the people behind a bombing at an upscale shopping mall in the capital over a month ago.

The attack at the Criminal Court, in which no one was hurt, came five weeks after two small bombs exploded outside the popular Siam Paragon mall, slightly injuring one person.

Police said that soldiers apprehended the two suspects on a motorcycle shortly after the attack, in which a grenade was hurled into the court's compound Saturday night, when the courthouse was closed. One of the men was shot and wounded by the soldiers during an exchange of gunfire before the arrests.

An initial investigation found that the perpetrators of both attacks were from the same network, national police chief Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang told reporters.

He did not give more details, but said authorities believed there were several other groups that wanted to launch similar attacks. Somyot said police would be deployed at key locations, including government offices and tourists spots, to provide safety.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that intelligence led to the quick arrests of the men and that the authorities were investigating the links between the masterminds and political groups.

"They wanted to make people panic, in order to show they are still active. That's all," Prayuth, who took over as prime minister after leading a military coup last year, told reporters. "Even though the arrests have been made, I cannot be confident that more attacks won't happen as long as these people are still out there. People who are still engaging in a conflict and fighting for a political cause."

Last month, Prayuth called the blasts outside of Siam Paragon an attempt to discredit the military government.

Political temperatures have risen as the junta that took power after the May 22 coup has tightened its clampdown on critics. Earlier this year, the junta-appointed legislature formally impeached former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the leader of the ousted government.