STUDENTS screamed in fear on Friday morning as they heard guns being fired near their school in Narathiwat province.
A gunfight erupted after rangers and police confronted a group of suspected insurgents in a rubber plantation nearby. One suspect was killed in the clash, and authorities believe other suspects were wounded.
The firing happened a couple of kilometres from the Ban Teukor School in Chanae district, but the sounds of a hovering helicopter and guns firing had the students so terrified, they had to be ushered into the school library.
Police officers and rangers had surrounded the rubber plantation after learning that some five suspected insurgents had set up camp there. However, as they got closer, one of the suspects became aware of them and alerted others.
An hour of shooting
That’s when the shooting began and lasted for about an hour. The security officials even had to call in a helicopter to pressure the suspects and monitor the situation from above.
The suspects opened fire, so they could retreat deeper into the woods, and they managed to do just that with the exception of Hasan Mali, whose body was found after the gunfire exchange came to a stop. Next to his body was an assault rifle.
Hasan was wanted for allegedly killing a ranger in 2016 and launching an attack on a defence volunteer team late last year. His body will undergo an autopsy before it is handed over to his relatives for a proper funeral.
“We will scour all routes they may have taken,” Colonel Pramote Prom-in said on Friday in his capacity as spokesman for the Forward Command of the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4.
Unrest has plagued the deep South for over a decade now, claiming thousands of lives.
In Narathiwat’s Sungai Padi district, two bombs exploded at 7.30am on Friday, injuring one police and four rangers. The blast also left a metre deep and a metre-and-a-half wide crater in the road. All five of the victims, two in serious condition, are in hospital.
The five were patrolling the area when the first bomb exploded. Though the first explosion did not injure them, the second blast managed to get them as they were trying to get away.
Also on Friday morning, a bomb exploded in Pattani’s Nong Chik district seriously injuring two police officers and two villagers, including a three-month-old baby.