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Sun, January 21, 2007 : Last updated 22:07 pm (Thai local time)



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NEW YEAR'S EVE BOMBS
Military men arrested

Close aide to CNS heavyweight claims detentions are a sham

Police and the military yesterday rounded up 13 people suspected of being involved in the New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok.

The suspects are both military and civilian. The raids took place at nearly 20 locations in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Lop Buri.

Pol Lt Gen Panupong Singha Na Ayuthaya said police are examining arms and other evidence confiscated from these places.

Three  of the suspects were identified as Lt-Colonel Suchart Kudseung-nern and sergeants Sommai Tarabhumi and Jessadaporn Fongjamon of the Army's special warfare unit based in Lop Buri.

Police and military officers investigating the bombings also arrested Pipop Jungreung-on of Bangkok and Songdej Saengprateep of Lop Buri.

Other suspects were not identi-

fied but police and Army sources

said another three suspects were  also  "men in uniform" arrested at an Army camp in Bang Khaen district of  in Bangkok.

The New Year's Eve bombings killed three and wounded 40 more.

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont declined to comment on yesterday's arrests.

"I don't want to go into details because investigations are under way and all are suspects only," he said.

Earlier, the prime minister had said the attacks were not related to violence in the South.

Police sources said Pipop, a Bang-kok mini-van operator, had been implicated in last year's plot to assassinate then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

However, a close aide to key Council for National Security member General Saprang Kalayanamitr dismissed the arrests as "pre-arranged" events to save national police chief General Kowit Wattana from the sack.

"General Saprang was informed two days ago that police would do this. The work appears to be lacking credibility. It is intended just to help the national police chief," said the aide, who requested anonymity.

Surayud had earlier urged Kowit to speed up investigation into the attacks.








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