The latest bomb attacks in the deep South - in areas distant from towns where there are regular patrols - have been interpreted in two ways.
Security in urban areas may be sufficient, but it may have caused insurgents to change their strategy to smaller but more frequent terror attacks, Yala Governor Dejrat Simsiri said during a security briefing yesterday.
He spoke after a car-bomb attack on Wednesday killed five police and injured another.
“Whatever the reasons, security measures in downtown areas must be constant and strict to minimise the chance of attacks anywhere, in downtown areas or other outside areas,” he said. Dejrat spoke at a meeting of security officials in Songkhla that analysed the latest car-bomb attack.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shina-watra, who spoke earlier at Government House, said that aside from security operations, understanding local people in the deep South would be important, along with development projects and assistance, through Yawi-language media or television programmes.
Changes in state strategies on the region were not immediately needed as most plans and projects were in line with existing conditions in the master plans, she said.
Police raided and searched 18 locations in three precincts in Yala’s Raman district yesterday, where the car bombing occurred, in a bid to obtain evidence. They seized a mobile phone from a key suspect’s home, which contained video clips featuring scenes of the crime after the blast. House-owner Kaman Chaichana has been on the run after being implicated in several previous terror attacks.
Quoting eyewitnesses to the attack on Wednesday, police said a four-door pickup followed the police vehicle targeted in the attack from a distance. Many hooded men rushed to the vehicle and snatched six assault rifles, two pistols and three bulletproof vests after it was blasted by the car-bomb, before the men fled.
The pickup truck containing the explosives was stolen in a car-jack in Songkhla in March, police said. It was later used by insurgents in an ambush in Pattani, which saw four people killed including a kamnan, before being used on Wednesday. Two vehicles snatched in two ambushes have been used in two previous car-bomb attacks.
Police are on alert for another vehicle – a blue Isuzu pickup, with licence plate number Thor Thung-Lor Ling 8099 Bangkok – which went missing after three occupants were killed in a recent ambush.
Two security cameras located by Route 42 in Pattani and an electric board nearby were also burnt by insurgents. Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said more cameras were needed. He blamed bureaucracy for delays in the installation of units in areas they were needed.
Safety zones in Narathiwat have been expanded as a result of the attack on Wednesday, and more road checkpoints erected, as ordered by provincial governor Aphinant Suethanuwong.
He said that places would be opened next month for a further 120 civilian defence volunteers to assist security officials at new checkpoints and outposts to be set up.
Deputy police chief Adul Saengsingkaew yesterday presided over funeral services of the four slain Buddhist policemen at a temple in Yala. Their families were given assistance money and medals. One victim was a Muslim but his body was already buried within 24 hours of his death, as per Islamic funeral rules.