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Security chief heads to south Thailand after insurgency attacks

Publication Date : 02-09-2012


Thai National Security Council secretary-general Pol General Wichien Photeposri yesterday went to the deep south following more than 100 coordinated attacks, blamed on insurgents, in the four Southern border provinces on Friday.

The incidents, including five bomb attacks in Narathiwat that wounded six security officials, also saw the insurgents planting the Malaysian national flags across the region, in a purported attempt to symbolically link the region with Malaysia's independence day celebrations.

As he left Bangkok, Wichien said the trip was to check on the implementation of the nine-point strategy, especially the seven safety-zone measures, the progress of CCTV camera installations and security manpower management. He will report back to PM Yingluck Shinwatra. Speaking about the coordinated attacks, Wichien said it was not an intelligence failure.

After an urgent meeting with related officials, Wichien disclosed that the insurgents and sympathisers on Friday carried out more than 400 activities, mostly minor acts such as raising Malaysian flags and bomb hoaxes.

He said Thai-Malaysian relations remained unaffected by the insurgents' attempts to cause a bilateral conflict. He said Malaysia had clearly stated that it backed peace and would cooperate in developing both sides of the border in order to prevent conditions that led to insurgency. He said the NSC had a policy on negotiating for peace in the region, hence there were ongoing attempts for talks.

Lt-General Udomchai Thammasarojrat, the commander of the Fourth Army Area based in Pattani, said the insurgents' use of Malaysian flags did not affect bilateral relations and affirmed that the authority would continue to crack down on insurgents.

Saying that Friday's attacks in Narathiwat and Yala were carried out systematically, Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva urged Yingluck to carefully assess the southern situation and not jump to conclusions as a mistake could worsen the problem. He urged Yingluck to assign only one minister to be in charge of the southern unrest rather than three ministers, so as to prevent confusion. He planned to propose discussions on the Southern unrest to the House once the rubber price issue was discussed.

Narathiwat officials yesterday inspected the department store, which was bombed and was on fire on Friday night despite being in the safety zone. Police suspect that the group which carried out an attack on two shops on Oct 23, 2011, killing seven people and injuring eight others, was responsible for this attack, too. The store suffered 95-per-cent damage, initially estimated at 10 million baht (US$319,500).

Two rubber tappers lost a leg each in two separate bomb explosions in Narathiwat yesterday. Charoen Daengtae, 64, lost his left leg after stepping on a buried bomb in Tanyong Limor of Rangae district while Maena Lateh, 54, lost her right leg after stepping on a bomb in Tambon Bangpor of Muang district.


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