Arrest warrant against Thai clash mastermind

Agence France Presse

Bangkok, May 5:

A Thai court has issued an arrest warrant for a Muslim teacher accused of helping maste-

rmind last week’s clashes between security forces and suspected separatists, police and reports said today.

A police spokesman said Isma-ae Rayalong was identified as one of the ringleaders of the violence by two men held since the attacks in the restive south which claimed the lives of 108 Muslim rebels and five police and soldiers.

“We have enough evidence from the confession of those two men who were arrested after the clashes,” provincial police commissioner lieutenant general Prung Boonpadung said.

Prung said the detainees accused Isham-ae of indoctrinating them and others into launching the attacks, which were mounted on police stations and checkpoints in three provinces.

“He will be charged on several counts including attempted assassination and obstructing authorities,” he said.

Prung said the warrant was the first to be issued in relation to the attacks but declined

to confirm media reports that Isma-ae, from Yala province which borders Malaysia, was a religious teacher.

Thai authorities said yesterday that the bodies of seven suspected Muslim militants killed in a raid on a mosque last week were being DNA-tested to determine if they are foreigners.

Any evidence that some of those involved in last week’s attacks were foreigners could suggest that Thai separatists are working with regional terror groups like Jemaah Islamiyah.