Deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday a suspect has been taken into custody in connection with yesterday’s bombing spree in the southern region.

Gen. Prawit did not identify the suspect, but said the 17 bombings – which struck Phatthalung and Satun provinces – were the work of separatists operating in the neighboring border region. No one was killed or injured in the attacks.

“I have received a preliminary report that one suspect has been apprehended,” Prawit told reporters. “The bomb attacks were committed by those seeking to cause unrest in the three southern border provinces.”

If Prawit’s claim is true, it marks an escalation by secessionist militants to bring their attacks northward toward Phatthalung and Satun, which had been mostly unaffected during the 15 years of violence.

An EOD officer defuses a bomb in Phatthalung province.
He also said the assailants appeared to target the two provinces because they are less defended than those in the Deep South.

Seven bombs were either found or detonated there Sunday. Though they caused widespread damage, no one was killed or injured.

Just this morning, a bomb went off in Narathiwat province and wounded a ranger who was on patrol.

Police also reported that banners were hung in Yala and Narathiwat denouncing the Thai state over a 1909 treaty that partitioned the Patani sultanate between Siam and British Malaya. Sunday marked the 110th anniversary of the pact ending the Muslim kingdom’s independence.

Some roads were likewise defaced with graffiti reading “Patani 110.”

Speaking to reporters at Don Mueang Airport just after returning from meetings in the two provinces, Prawit insisted the attacks had nothing to do with any political factions.

“It’s not related to politics,” the general said.

It remains to be seen is whether it represents an ongoing escalation or one-off attack. In 2016, bombs ripped through seven provinces during Mother’s Day, killing four.

Speaking to reporters at Don Mueang Airport just after returning from meetings in the two provinces, Prawit insisted the attacks had nothing to do with any political factions.

“It’s not related to politics,” the general said.

Thailand is gearing up for an election on March 24.