Utter mayhem in South
Army major dies in second day of blasts<br>
Soldiers, militants in fierce gun battle
Govt won't deviate on peaceful solution
Police inspect a vehicle destroyed in an explosion at a car showroom in Pattani’s Muang district. Below, a soldier with a sniffer-dog guards the entrance of a Yala karaoke bar.
A string of co-ordinated attacks in the deep South continued unabated yesterday as militants killed an army major, bombed a motor showroom and injured at least seven civilians and ten soldiers who were part of security details for teachers in the violence-plagued region.
Major Prasart Nagtang, commander of a ranger unit in Yala's Raman district died in a bomb blast that went off at the front door of his home. His 12-year-old son suffered severe injuries in the attack.
In Narathiwat's Ruesoh district, five Border Patrol Police officers from two different platoons were hit by a roadside bomb near a remote railway station. The bomb was hidden in the back of a shed. A second bomb, planted about six metres away, exploded seconds after the first.
Also in the same district, a separate incident saw six infantry soldiers patrolling on motorbikes come under roadside attack by gunmen using automatic rifles. The two sides engaged in a fierce gunfight for about five minutes before the militants retreated back into the forest.
In Narathiwat's Muang district, a bomb placed just five metres away from a karaoke bar went off, injuring five men and two women drinking just outside the venue.
Separately, a bomb explosion in a Chevrolet showroom in Pattani's Muang district injured seven people, including a police officer, and damaged 20 automobiles. Damage to the showroom was put at Bt50 million. The bomb was placed inside a flowerpot against the wall next to the showroom and five metres behind the guard post of the compound.
The attacks were part of a non-stop violent campaign that was launched early Sunday evening as celebrations for the Chinese New Year were getting into full swing.
Power supplies to Pattani and Yala were cut for several hours as militants bombed the power lines leading to the cities.
The Sunday night attacks saw six dead and more than 60 injured in the bombings of "soft targets" such as hotels, karaoke lounges, entertainment venues, rubber plants and government offices.
Authorities claimed to have the situation under control by 10pm on Sunday - about four hours after the co-ordinated attacks were launched. But their claim was savagely rebutted with the killing of an Army major and a series of other attacks in various parts throughout the region.
The Army's Chief of Staff Gen. Montri Sangkasap said attacks on soft-targets constituted "terrorism" and warned more such acts would take place because there were some "loopholes" in the security measures.
But a senior security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while soft targets were hit on Sunday and Monday, these latest attacks were no different from the previous incidents on the same, or similar, locations.
He said there appeared to be some degree of "self-restraint" on the militants' part, pointing to the fact that there were other major targets with a higher concentration of people celebrating the Chinese New Year.
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said no more troops were needed in the region, and insisted the government would not stray from using a peaceful approach to the restive region to win over the area's residents to the government side.