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Pair held over Thai bombing

CAMBODIA has arrested two Thais suspected of involvement in a bombing at a political party office in Bangkok last month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a man and a woman were arrested in Siem Reap province on Saturday in connection with the June 22 bombing, which it described as a “terrorist act”.

“Although there is no request from the Thai government, the Cambodian government has decided to arrest and send the two terrorists back to Thailand,” the ministry said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said yesterday that the pair, Kobchai Boonplod and Varisareeya Boonsom, both 42, would be handed over to the Thai authorities at 9:30am today.

“This is to show the willingness of the government to fight terrorism, and that Cambodia always cooperates with other countries in the world to fight terrorism,” he said.

The arrests follow Cambodian denials of Thai media reports that the pair entered the country on June 23, a day after an explosion rocked the Bangkok headquarters of the Bhumjaithai Party, a member of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s coalition government.

In a statement issued on June 28, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers dismissed the reports as “groundless and ill-intentioned”, part of a “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia”.

Koy Kuong said the government’s strong reactions followed a series of false Thai media reports, and that the government was showing its good faith by handing the pair over to Thailand.

“The government of Cambodia is committed to extraditing these two suspects to Thailand despite not receiving a request from Thailand,” he said.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said he could not comment on the situation until the prisoners were handed over to Thai authorities, but welcomed Cambodia’s help.

“In general, we welcome the cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia on these activities, and we think it’s very encouraging,” he said.

When asked about the Cambodian government’s earlier accusation, he said he was “not in a position to comment on Cambodian affairs or Cambodian opinions”.

Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the arrests could potentially signal a warming of relations between the two countries.

“I think that Cambodia has a flexible position regarding bilateral relations,” he said.

“I can see positive developments in the bilateral relationship from here.”

The two countries withdrew their ambassadors in November last year after Cambodia appointed fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to the government.

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