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Security moves planned ahead of Ramadan

Fourth Army Region chief Lt General Walit Rojanapakdi has ordered officials to implement four security measures in the far South ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts next Sunday.

The measures include beefing up security by staging secret missions to ensure community security, including business areas, and strengthening checkpoints that target stolen vehicles, plus ingredients used to make bombs and wanted people, Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4's Forward Command, said yesterday.

The first measure requires people to remove helmets in city areas.

Moves have also been made to accommodate the travel plans of Thai Muslims, including wanted some who sympathise with the insurgency under the "Taking the (misguided) people home" project, so they can carry out religious ceremonies with their family.

Fourthly, checkpoints will be equipped with water and figs for Muslims to enjoy when they end their fast each day.

Pramote said state agencies would fully support Ramadan activities.

He said there had been an increase in violent attacks during Ramadan the past four years because insurgents reportedly believed attacks during the holy month had greater merit.

The Deep South Watch Centre said there had been 1,168 incidents during the Ramadan month in the past 10 years, with 631 people killed and 986 wounded.

The violence continued yesterday.

Two rangers were seriously wounded by a roadside bomb and subsequent gun attack on a six-ranger team that was patrolling a local road on foot as part of their teacher protection duties in tambon Yamu in Pattani's Yaring district at about 7.30am.

In a related development, a marine team yesterday raided a hideout in Narathiwat's Bacho district and seized an M16 rifle, camping tools, medical supplies and cellphones.

Meanwhile, authorities suspect the shooting ambush in Narathiwat's Sri Sakhon district on Sunday, which saw two paramilitary ranger volunteers shot dead and five others injured, was carried out by an insurgent group led by a man identified only as Tohwae.

The bodies of volunteers, Natthapong Pimrat and Wisanu Nuankaew, were sent yesterday to their hometowns in Udon Thani and Songkhla respectively.




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