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80 held at border with explosive substance

Authorities in eastern Sa Kaew province yesterday detained more than 80 Cambodian Muslims for illegally transporting medicines and potentially explosive material into the country.

The 80, which included 51 women, were arrested at the Aranyaprathet immigration checkpoint, which links to Cambodia’s Poi Pet. The group was en route to the deep South.

Officials confiscated a number of medicines, mostly antibiotics hidden in bags, and two kilograms of saltpetre (potassium nitrate) belonging to Yos Sakolhet, 24, from Khampong Cham.

Carrying medicine into the Kingdom without permission is against the law and saltpetre is an explosive substance, Lt-Colonel Kittiphan Kalpak, deputy commander of the Burapha Armed Forces 12th Task Force, who led the arrest team, said.

Authorities at the border have noticed an increase in the number of Cambodian Muslims travelling to the deep South with unclear purpose, he said.

Yos told officials that he was taking the saltpetre to a Khmer man in the South but declined to reveal the exact purpose for the delivery.

Saltpetre could be used as an explosive substance and also for fermenting fish or meat to preserve protein.

However, it is not abnormal for Cambodian Muslims to travel to the South, where the vast majority are Malay Muslims, as they go there for Islamic education and to seek jobs in Pattani port, the second-largest fishing port in the Kingdom.

Thousands Cambodian Muslims are currently in the region.

Security officials look at the movement of groups of people to the South with suspicion as they are struggling to contain violence that has rocked the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathaiwat since the beginning of 2004.

More than 1,700 people have died over the past 32 months.

Yesterday, a group of workers at a construction company narrowly escaped a shooting and an explosion in Narathiwat’s Joh I Rong district.

The workers of the Son company informed the district police they escaped from the shooting at about 11.30am.

Police rushed to the scene, where they found spent ammunition shells. While they were inspecting the area an explosive device went off some five metres away.

Police believe the bomb was meant to hurt them but failed as it was not powerful enough.

The Nation

Sa Kaew

Taken from:http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2006/09/11/headlines/headlines_30013298.php

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Filed under: cut and paste from somewhere else, Security

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