Thailand's army chief vowed Thursday that troops would continue using a British-made bomb scanner that failed a series of tests, as a fresh blast in the troubled south wounded 13 people.
The government and army have both faced criticism since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Tuesday that tests showed the scanners, on which Thailand has spent 21 million dollars, performed worse than sniffer dogs.
Human Rights Watch issued a statement Thursday calling on the government to stop arresting people based on evidence gathered using the GT200 wand, made by British firm ATSC.
But army chief General Anupong Paojinda told reporters that the machines, which are widely used in the insurgency-hit, Muslim-majority south, would stay in use and had proved successful on 300 occasions.
"What the army is trying to tell the public as well as the media is that low-ranking soldiers in the south have used it and have had success in protecting people's lives," Aung he told press conference.
"I respect the scientific tests but at this stage there is no banning order by the government so the army will continue to use it," he said.
The detectors have already been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Anupong's comments came hours after a bomb attached to a motorcycle exploded in the southern town of Pattani, which has been hit by frequent attacks since a separatist insurgency broke out in the south in 2004.
The blast wounded 13 people, two critically, a hospital worker said.
In nearby Yala province a 26 year old man was shot dead by suspected insurgents late Wednesday, police said.
More than 4,100 people have died in bomb blasts, shootings, beheadings and crucifixions during the six-year insurgency in the southernmost Thai provinces bordering Malaysia.
The region was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until it was annexed in 1902 by mainly Buddhist Thailand and tensions have bubbled there ever since.