THAI AUTHORITIES have claimed their "most successful crackdown on an insurgent base in a decade" with their raid on Tawae mountain in Narathiwat on Sunday.
This mountain – together with Budo mountain in Bacho district – was known as a key hiding place for insurgents and has seen much action over the years.
The mountain is surrounded by a wide and fertile wilderness spanning five districts of Narathiwat and offers easy exits for insurgents, as well as good ambush spots.
Its position also often obstructs state officers in their hunt for insurgents and leads to issues surrounding jurisdiction.
A 2007 gunfight on Tawae mountain led to five insurgent deaths and the seizure of a large batch of stolen weapons. It was followed by four raids on insurgent bases, including raid last Sunday, according to a forensic |science agency source.
May 4, 2008 saw rangers raiding a large camp supporting at least 60 people and the seizing of more food and medical supplies. Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, then director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, inspected the scene at that time.
Another raid on July 1, 2011 uncovered four shacks with plastic covers and some 100 bomb-making items; while a gunfight on May 31, 2010 between rangers and insurgents led to the seizure of seven shacks and weaponry.
Last July 22, rangers clashed with an armed group before capturing a base with shacks, a practice field, and a canteen, before seizing bullets, medical supplies, camouflage clothing and camping equipment.
The raid on Sunday took out a large, more permanent camp that could support at least 30 people with a kitchen, an infirmary unit and a practice field.
Examination of the camp by forensic officials found “25/11/2553” (25/11/2010) marked on a tree, possibly the date of the camp’s establishment.
A source from the raid team said that the information was obtained when suspects were interrogated and combined with a DNA database. This prompted authorities to raid the mountain from both sides.
They believed the same insurgent group that hung banners condemning authorities in the deep South was related to another that made bombs.
“We hope the evidence can help us figure out the insurgent group’s structure,” the source added.