Mother’s Day attackers likely to be junta’s political opponents: Junta security expert

A security expert advising the Thai junta has argued that the Mother’s Day attack was likely connected to the junta’s political opponents.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, advisor on security affairs to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, told BBC Thai on Sunday, 14 August 2016, that the series of arson and bomb attacks in southern provinces of Thailand on 11-12 August 2016 were likely connected to people negatively affected by the policies of the PM.   

He said it was quite clear that the attack was politically motivated by certain groups of people especially “the old powerful groups, those who have been charged with defaming the Thai monarchy or corruption or powerful groups who have been negatively affected by arrests and policies to crackdown on regional powerful networks.”

He added that certain groups of people who feel threatened by the referendum result, the popularity of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) or the PM might be behind the attack.

“Most people might not know much about the law, so they might have voted to pass [the draft charter] because they want elections, but the second question [in the referendum] was the NCPO’s idea on a transition mechanism. The result reflected the popularity of the NCPO and the PM which is threatening to certain groups of people,” BBC Thai quoted Panitan as saying.

He told the BBC that the perpetrators of the attack are not likely to be the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the most active Deep South insurgent group, contrary to what many Thai and international security experts have concluded. An attack outside the three Deep South provinces would actually be counterproductive to the BRN’s goals.

When asked if certain anti-establishment red-shirt groups might be capable of staging such attacks, Panitan said that although some hardcore red shirt groups might be capable of such operations, it is unlikely that the main red shirt faction is involved.

On the same day, Jutuporn Prompam, leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red shirt faction associated with Thaksin Shinawatra, held a press briefing to condemn the Mother’s Day attack. He was accompanied by other key UDD leaders.

The UDD leader said that the perpetrators of such attacks intended to create instability and chaos which would only provide further context for the NCPO to stay in power. He condemned the authorities and certain political groups who used the incident to sabotage their political opponents.