Military braces for southern flare-up

Military braces for southern flare-up

Krue Se mosque

Security will be stepped up across the southernmost provinces next week in a bid to deter possible unrest which might be perpetrated to mark the 13th anniversary of the Krue Se mosque killings in Pattani.

Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command’s (Isoc) Region 4, yesterday said 4th Army commander, Piyawat Nakwanich, had instructed security officials to beef up security measures in the deep South next week, particularly in violence-prone communities and downtown areas, to protect the public.

Lt Gen Piyawat’s order was issued to prevent violence being carried out by insurgency networks wanting to mark the deadly clash at the mosque on April 28, 2004.

Thirty-two Muslim insurgent suspects were killed by security forces during the clash.

Speaking about 13 coordinated attacks in Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla on Wednesday night, Col Pramote said authorities have been unable to establish the motive yet and that investigations are ongoing.

The spokesman also warned some critics not to jump to conclusions that the attacks were an attempt derail ongoing peace talks between the Thai government and southern separatist groups.

Violence has been occurring in the region for more than a decade, while peace talks have only been taking place for a couple of years, Col Pramote said, adding the public should wait for the investigation results from authorities.

Unconfirmed reports suggest Doonloh Wae-mano (nom de guerre Abdullah Wan Mat Noor), the newly appointed leader of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN), could be behind the coordinated attacks in the three provinces on April 19.

Mr Doonloh, former secretary-general of the BRN’s governing council, known in Malay as the Dewan Pimpinan Parti, was appointed the organisation’s new chairman following the death of the BRN’s former chairman Sapae-ing Baso on Jan 10.

In other changes, Abdul Munir was named secretary-general of political affairs, Din Wan Cik was appointed military chief and Muhd Arsad Wansor was picked as treasurer.

Hasan Khatib, meanwhile, was chosen to head international political affairs and Bustaman Salih was named as a consultant, according to security officials.

Authorities also think Mr Din could be the mastermind behind the latest violence in the three provinces, saying the attacks could have been a show of strength.

In Narathiwat, local administrative officials representing the government, and who were led by Jamnan Muendam, yesterday visited a defence volunteer and a villager in Sungai Padi Hospital after they were injured in Sungai Padi district during the April 19 blitz.

Mr Jamnan also ordered security officials and relevant authorities in 13 Narathiwat districts to work together to step up security in their respective areas as well as to exchange information and evidence to hunt down the suspects behind the attacks.

Also yesterday, Isoc spokesman Peerawat Saengthong said the public should not pay too much heed to the violent incidents on April 6 and April 19.

He said insurgents only aimed to discredit the government by stirring up unrest to demonstrate the failure of state authorities in providing safety for residents.

He said public trust in Isoc Region 4 operations also made it difficult for separatists to carry out attacks as often and as blatantly as before, resulting in a decrease in violence.

Also yesterday, the Isoc closed down a 40-year-old government project to provide financial aid to former communist insurgents.

The assistance was given to encourage ex-members of the Communist Party of Thailand to turn over a new leaf and cooperate with the authorities.

The programme was cut because most of the former insurgents have died.

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