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Security agency denies officials behind killing of suspected insurgent

Student group says incident part of decadelong 'war' in region

A THAI security agency yesterday dismissed suspicions raised by the Federation of Patanian Student and Youth (PERMAS) that the April 17 shooting in Yala, in which suspected insurgent Mukta Alimama and his six-year-old son were killed, had been carried out by state officials.

Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Forward Command spokesman Colonel Pramote Phrom-in yesterday responded to PERMAS' statement by saying that the agency aimed to arrest those who carried out violent attacks to put them through the justice procedure. PERMAS had issued the statement on April 19 questioning if state officials were behind the killings as Mukta was a suspected insurgent and faced international security warrants.

Pramote also explained that the forward command, working with related agencies, applied various methods to capture attackers, some of whom were killed because they resisted arrest. He said the agency offered suspected insurgents and sympathisers a chance to surrender and enter the legal process via its project to take them home. He also insisted that state officials maintained the rule of law and human rights principles.

In the statement, PERMAS said the decade-long "war" in the region had claimed many innocent lives and the death of the six-year-old boy was a violation of the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War. It also called on the government to accept that this war was driven by political ideologies, hence human-rights organisations, NGOs, civil-society and people's sectors should be allowed to monitor investigations into incidents in which rights have been violated.

PERMAS also called on the government to implement a "politics before military" strategy to bring about peace as well as withdraw the Army out of the region, because the past decade had proved that their presence could not keep peace, but created doubts and more conditions for violence.

However, Pramote dismissed PERMAS' claims, saying soldiers had been sent to the South to provide security for people and their properties - and not to fight a war. He insisted that the region was not a war zone, adding that those behind violent attacks had to be arrested and punished according to law.

He also pointed out that insurgents - not state officials - were behind most violent attacks in the past decade and that Army presence was necessary to protect people. He said a local survey showed that people also wanted soldiers to be present.

The colonel went on to say that the agency had already applied the "politics before military" strategy and had never blocked different sectors from observing investigations into incidents that were within the framework of human-rights violations.

Separately, the motorcycle bombing on Tuesday believed to have been aimed at two senior clerks at Narathiwat's Chanae District Office might have been carried out by an armed group led by Abdul-harem Jehtu, who was wanted for 10 national security cases, a source at a national security agency said yesterday.

The senior clerks and four village defence volunteers were returning from a school sporting event in tambon Chang Pheuk in an armoured pick-up truck when the bomb went off. The truck was slightly damaged, while a passing motorist sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, as part of an investigation into another shooting attack on Sunday that killed three people, including a two-year-old girl in Yala's Bannang Sata district, arrest warrants have been issued for two suspects who are local residents identified as Sameem Samae and Sabri Jehwae.




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