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Thailand Police Thwart Attempted Bombing

In Thailand, police have defused a bomb in a southern region that has seen several deadly attacks in recent weeks. The bomb was discovered as authorities are searching for the attackers who raided an army weapons depot two weeks ago in which four soldiers were killed.

Police say a bomb squad destroyed a bomb hidden in the fuel tank of a motorcycle parked outside a store in southern Pattani province. They say the bomb was discovered after the store received a telephone call warning of the device. They add the bomb was wired to a mobile (cellular) telephone meant to trigger the explosion.

Two policemen were killed 10 days ago as they tried to defuse a similar bomb, also hidden in a motorcycle, in neighboring Yala province. That attack came three days after gunmen raided an army weapons depot in neighboring Narathiwat province, killing four soldiers and making off with at least 100 weapons.

Security forces have issued arrest warrants for nearly one dozen suspects in that attack. Authorities in neighboring Malaysia have descriptions of the wanted individuals, but no arrests have been announced.

Thai police Monday said they arrested another man suspected of involvement in the Yala bomb plot, bringing the total arrests in that case to four.

Thai officials at different times have attributed the attacks to bandits, criminal gangs and extremists seeking an independent state for the predominantly Muslim south.

However, Thailand's Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana says it is too early to tell. "We have to allow time for the investigations team to work… then we can give information about who these offenders are."

Thailand and Malaysia have increased security cooperation since the attacks. The two countries are carrying out joint border patrols.

In addition, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, during a meeting in Bangkok Friday, set up a joint commission to address poverty and marginalization among the people of the border area.