THE DEADLY bomb ambush of security officers in Yala on Thursday didn’t just kill two officers and wound over a dozen personnel – it also affected the families who love them and depend on them.
The bathing rite was held for the dead officers at a Yala temple yesterday before the bodies were sent back to their hometowns in the afternoon.
The bathing rite ceremony featured royally-granted wreaths, from HM King Maha Vajiralongkorn and nine other royal family members, and others from Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy General Prawit Wongsuwan.
It also included the presentation of bravery medals and Bt500,000 in funeral assistance money to each slain officer’s family.
“Our hearts are broken,” said Peerapat Phuttho and Sri-amporn Boonphetch, the parents of 29-year-old ranger Pol Lc-Corporal Thanes Phuttho who died in the attack.
Joining with other relatives to prepare their son’s funeral at Wat Tha Chan in Nakhon Sawan's Banphot Pisai district, the couple said Thanes was supporting the family along with Bangkok-based food vendor Sri-amporn, while Peerapat had chronic diabetes and Thanes’ younger sister, who is still studying, took care of him.
“I passed out in front of customers when I heard of his death,” Sri-amporn said. Thanes, a kind and helpful young man, loved to serve his country as a soldier, she recalled.
“He often replied to my warning for him to be careful that to die on duty would be an honourable death,” she said, adding the family had no savings and had to borrow Bt30,000 from a neighbour for his funeral’s initial preparations.
Prayut yesterday condemned the insurgents who planted three roadside bombs with intent to kill. He warned security officials to beware of tactical attacks, pointing to the insurgents’ approach on Thursday in which the first bomb was detonated to lure officials to the scene before a second, and then a third, more powerful bomb went off.
Civilians should not get close to a bomb site, said Prayut, noting that civilians including reporters were among the injured.
The Royal Thai Army offered condolences to Thanes’ family for the death of the exemplary and devoted soldier. They would grant him a seven-rank post-mortem promotion to lieutenant along with related benefits, said deputy Army spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong. The family would initially receive Bt2.6 million compensation, Sirichan added.
“I feel deeply sad. I feel lost without my husband. But I will try to be strong for our daughter,” said Loei resident Phongsri Janthawong, 41, as she and others were preparing for a funeral of her husband, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) officer Pol Sr Sgt-Major Aneroot “Darb Yak” Janthawong, 49.
Aneroot had been cleared last October for a posting in his home province, Loei. He instead volunteered to serve as an EOD officer in the southern border provinces, often a dangerous posting for security personnel, said a post on Facebook.com/Palangjai.
“He wanted to get more EOD work experience and defend the country,” Phongsri said. “Though it gives me deep sorrow, this also made me proud of him.”
Their grief-stricken daughter Panthanan, 17, said she would keep his memory and use his teachings and example in living her life.
Aneroot had earlier this year posted a message asking for flashlight donations to aid the EOD works, the popular Facebook page Drama-addict posted yesterday.
Many users sent him flashlights and he then posted a thank-you message, vowing to perform his duty to the best of his ability.
Best wishes also poured in from other Facebook users for the swift recovery of another EOD officer, Pol Sr Sgt-Major Worawichai Boonraksa, according to a fan page, Facebook.com/knightsouthern. Following a second round of surgery late on Thursday night, which left him an amputee, Worawichai had regained consciousness yesterday and was in recovery, the page said.
Fourth Army commander Piyawat Nakwanich yesterday visited the 11 wounded officers who remained at Yala hospital. Four were still in critical condition. He presented gifts and assistance money to each.
The investigation into the ambush would lead to several arrests within a week, Piyawat predicted.
Not “a square inch [of the country] would be given to separatists” Piyawat said. The separatists should instead turn over a new leaf and join in the country’s development, after which they could buy as many rais as they wish, he said.