Thai police claim major progress in finding bomb suspects

BANGKOK — Thai police said Wednesday they were making major progress on tracking down perpetrators of last week's bombings at several tourist destinations that killed four people and wounded dozens, including 11 foreign travelers.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a suspect believed to be connected with homemade bombs found in Phuket, one of seven towns where bombings and arson attacks took place last Thursday and Friday. Deputy police spokesman Col. Krisana Pattanacharoen said investigators believe the probe was 70 percent complete but he could not give details.

"We already know who's behind it, but we can't give you any information right now, otherwise it will jeopardize the case," he said at a news conference.

"If I tell you all the information now our case may be ruined and how are we going to catch anyone? Just give us some time to work the case and if there's any positive advancements we will report it immediately," said Krisana.

Media and scholars suspect the attacks were carried out by Muslim separatists who have been waging an insurgency in Thailand's deep south since 2004 in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.

Senior Thai officials had hinted that political opponents of the current military government were responsible, without being specific. The remarks were generally taken to refer to supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.

Thaksin and his political allies have all denied any involvement.

Krisana said the investigation needed to extend into who was behind the attack — "the kingpin and the financier." Asked if any connections to politicians had been found in the bombings investigation, he replied, "As of right now, no."

He spoke on the anniversary of the bombing of Bangkok's popular Erawan Shrine, which killed 20 people. Thai authorities blamed a people-smuggling gang taking revenge for a crackdown, but analysts suspect Uighur separatists angry that Thailand forcibly repatriated more than 100 Uighurs to China. Two men identified as Uighurs were arrested for the bombing, but their trial is still in its early stages.

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