Suspect admits to blasts in Thailand, says acted against "coup government"

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BANGKOK, June 20 (Reuters) - A 61-year-old man arrested in
connection with a bomb blast at a military-run hospital in
Bangkok claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday saying
he objected to unelected military rulers.
    The attack last month struck Bangkok'sPhramongkutklao
Hospital and injured more than 20 people. It coincided with the
third anniversary of a May 2014 military coup.
    In overthrowing an elected government, the military said at
the time it had to take control after months of turbulence
including street protests aimed at ousting the government of
populist politicians who have won every election since 2001.
    Suspect Wattana Pumret, who was detained last week, admitted
to the charges against him, including conspiring to kill,
causing injury and illegal possession of explosives.
    He also took responsibility for two smaller explosions in
Bangkok last month that hurt several people.
    "All of my past actions were a symbolic gesture against the
coup government. I don't wish to harm people," Wattana told a
news conference organised by the police, his first public
appearance since his arrest.
    "I'm a normal person who doesn't agree with a military
government that wasn't elected."
    He said he acted alone.
    Police said Wattana had been appointed a police lawyer.
Reuters was not immediately able to contact the lawyer.
    Wattana has been held and questioned at an army base, used
by the military as a temporary prison.
    The military has the power to detain civilians at military
camps without charge and rights activists say some face unfair
trials in military courts, which the junta has designated for
cases involving national security.
    Since the coup, the military has kept a tight lid on dissent
by arresting critics and banning public protests.
    But the capital has seen sporadic violence including a
deadly explosion at a shrine in August 2015 that killed 20
people, most of them foreigners.
    Two men, Uighur Muslims from China's restive Xinjiang
region, are on trial for that bombing which authorities have
said was retaliation for a crackdown on human-smuggling
    National police chief Jakthip Chaijinda said he had ordered
further investigations into the recent bombings, adding that
Wattana may not have acted alone.
    Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said further unrest
could mean a delay in a general election which is expected to
take place next year. On Tuesday, however, he said the vote was
still on course.

 (Reporting by Aukkarapon Niyomyat, Panarat Thepgumpanat and
Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre)
 ((amy.lefevre@thomsonreuters.com; Tel: +66 26489737; Reuters
Messaging: amy.lefevre.thomsonreuters@reuters.net))


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