Narathiwat blast kills 3 officers
NSC selects 15-person team for talks with insurgents in M'sia on March 28
Ending a lull in insurgent attacks in recent weeks, a roadside bomb in Narathiwat's Rusoh district yesterday killed three policemen, including a much-decorated senior officer, and seriously wounded three others when it detonated as their vehicle was passing.
The powerful bomb, consisting of 90 kilograms of explosives, left a three-metre-wide, two-metre-deep crater in the bridge where it was planted and sent the officers' vehicle flying for several metres. The six occupants were travelling in their jurisdiction in Rusoh district on administrative duty.
The three fallen officers were Pol Lt-Colonel Jakkrit Wongphrommes, Pol Sergeant Piya Phoophanwer and Pol Corporal Suwes Jantharangsee. Jakkrit, 49, was known to have dedicated himself to peace building and was instrumental in the suppression of insurgents' activities, foiling several violent attacks.
Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) has reportedly selected 15 people to make up a Thai delegation to a first round of talks with insurgent representatives on March 28 in Malaysia's Langkawi, the first step in a fledgling peace dialogue between the two sides. The names of the 15 Thais will be sent to the insurgents' representatives, members of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN), for initial approval, while the BRN will send the names of 15 members to undergo the same process.
NSC secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr did not name the 15 Thai representatives, but said none of them belonged to the Muslim Wadah political faction, members of which were recently appointed personal advisers by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung. The Wadah members are believed to support a proposal to establish an autonomous Pattani metropolitan administration as a way out of the violence in the deep South.
Responding to reports that nine groups of active insurgents based in Thailand may also take part in the peace dialogue, Paradorn said this would be discussed with the BRN members at the meeting on March 28. The groups may be asked to wait for their turns at future sessions. "In principal, the BRN is the largest entity [with a role in the insurgency], and other groups should take part through BRN-assisted coordination," he added.
Asked about the known connection between Hassan Taib, one of the four representatives who signed the agreement with Thai authorities on February 28 to establish the peace dialogue, and core members of the Wadah group - a connection that could mean Thai authorities' confidential details about the process could have been revealed secretly to the BRN - Paradorn said that was "inevitable and undeniable".
"Some may suspect that details could have been leaked to the BRN, but the process now is [at the stage of establishing] friendship and confidence-building steps. The other matters could be brought up at later stages," he added.
A network of communities and social councils in the deep South yesterday issued an open letter praising the peace dialogue and expressed hope that it would ultimately deliver peace.
The group also vowed support for the efforts and called on local communities and all Thais to be supportive of the process.