Group says 'fighter' cell may have been infiltrated
Separatist chief considers existence of moleA senior operative from the Barisan Revolusi National-Coordinated (BRN-C) said his movement has not ruled out the possibility that there was a mole within the local militant cell responsible for planning and implementing Wednesday morning's failed attack on a Marine base in Narathiwat's Bacho district.
He said BRN-C, a separatist group that surfaced in the 1960s and claims to have the best relations with the militants, said the two groups would go back to the drawing board to rethink their future plans, especially those involving such daring attempts.
The Marine Task Force 32 commander, Marine Lt-Colonel Thamanoon Wanna, said information about the attack was obtained from a map found on the body of Suhaidee Tahir, a suspected insurgent who was killed last Saturday in Narathiwat's Sai Buri district in a gunfight with security forces.
Authorities had accused Suhaidee of killing Thai-Muslim schoolteacher Chonlatee Charoen-chon, who was shot dead in front of his students on January 23. BRN-C denies that Chonlatee was killed by the militants, locally known as juwae, which means "fighter" in the local Malay dialect.
The operative said the juwae had killed three teachers and burned down two schools from mid-November to the first week of January in retaliation for the November 14 assassination of Abdullateh Todir, the imam in Yala's Yaha district, and for the Rangae district teashop massacre on December 11, allegedly carried out by a pro-government death squad.At the insistence of senior BRN-C leaders, the juwae stopped targeting teachers and schools around the first week of January, and Chonlatee was not on their hit list, the operative said. He described Marohso Jantarawadee, one of the leaders of Wednesday's attack, as a dedicated juwae.
"Whatever happens in this area, Marohso always gets blamed," said his mother, Che Mah Che Ni, 52, who went on to blast the authorities for being insensitive for sending four truckloads of security officials to search her and her neighbours' homes on the same day that they killed her son in a gunfight.
The action was in stark contrast to statements by political leaders, who earlier expressed regret over the suffering of the families of the slain insurgents.
The Wednesday morning ambush was billed an operational and intelligence success, although statements from officials contradicted each other. While a senior Marine said information about the plan had came from insurgents killed in the earlier operation, other officials said villagers and/or defecting militants tipped them off.
Two villages over from the camp, Ahama Sohkuning, 25, one of the 16 insurgents shot dead, was buried in a cemetery metres from his parent's backdoor. Like Marohso, he left behind a young wife. She is five months pregnant and their son is just 18 months old.
According to Ahama's parents, he went into hiding shortly after he was released from a 30-day confinement in the Ingkrayuth Camp in Pattani where he said he was tortured. He was finally let go because the Emergency Law permits no more than 30 days in detention without formal charges. The torture inflicted upon him had forced him into the movement, his family said.
Like his fellow cell member, Ahama was also buried as "shahid". For the two families, burying their dead as martyrs was as way of coming to term with their losses.
"People here prefer to see their sons killed fighting government troops then dying of drugs because there is no stigma in being a martyr," said a local aid worker. This is the kind of sentiment the Thai public and the state do not want to hear, much less understand, he said.