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Thai Cabinet rejects curfew for south
Publication Date : 16-02-2013
At the recommendation of the National Security Council (NSC), the Cabinet yesterday rejected a proposal to impose a curfew in the strife-torn deep South, as "requests to restrict night-time travel" had been respected by locals, who had cooperated fully with authorities, NSC secretary-general Lt-General Pharadorn Phatthanathabutr said.
The general cited strong opposition among locals surveyed in a report compiled jointly by the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and the Fourth Army Area as another reason for rejecting the curfew. More than 80 per cent of residents interviewed opposed the measure, which was proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, Pharadorn said.
Officials from the NSC, and from a new centre headed jointly by Chalerm and the SBPAC, spent two hours meeting with military and police officials, before reaching a conclusion and making a joint recommendation. Chalerm said later that he was fine with the Cabinet decision not to impose a curfew, but said measures already in place would continue in order to minimise the chance of insurgent attacks.
Locals in Narathiwat are complying fully with a number of requests made by authorities, he said. "Security officials are in control of the situation, while earning the full trust and support of the people, which has limited insurgents' movements and discouraged them from harming the people, because they will lose more support from them," he said.
Pharadorn cited as an example a "request" that residents restrict travel at night in Narathiwat's Bacho district, where 16 insurgents were killed while attacking a Marine base on Wednesday morning, adding that all five local schools voluntarily closed their doors to allow for a full-scale manhunt. A wounded man suspected of participating in the attack was arrested and is now in military custody as a result of the manhunt made possible by the 24-hour travel restriction, he said.
The meeting of security officials also discussed arming kamnan and village heads with war weapons as an additional measure, but later abandoned the idea on grounds that handguns and shotguns already issued to them were sufficient for self-defence and guard duties, which focused on preventing impromptu insurgent attacks, Pharadorn said.
A statement by security agencies in Bacho district revealed the names of five insurgent leaders thought to have taken part in the assault on the Marine outpost: Abdulhakim Puta, a resident of Narathiwat's Chanae district; Yafree Saro-eng, from Pattani's Sai Buri district; Arpandee Kapha, another Sai Buri district resident; Rohpae-ing Useng, of Narathiwat's Rusoh district; and Madaree Walong, of Narathiwat's Yi-ngor district.
Chalerm earlier dismissed as propaganda a YouTube clip featuring funerals of the 16 dead insurgents, saying their planned assault, which was reported widely in the media, was an obvious act of insurgency.