Three suspected insurgents shot dead after raids on hideouts in Yala
Security officials shot dead three suspected insurgents in separate incidents yesterday, after conducting simultaneous raids on mountain hideouts in two districts of Yala province.
Meanwhile, Army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha warned of further violence following the ninth anniversary of the Krue Se mosque incident this Sunday, as the next school semester was near, and insurgents might target teachers again when schools reopen.
A senior government adviser, Yuthasak Sasiprapha, called on civilian authorities in the deep South to work closely with security officials to organise security measures.
He said the insurgents’ message – displayed on a large number of cloth banners and placed deliberately at strategic locations last week – should not be taken lightly.
The message read, “Peace will not prevail if the true stakeholders are not recognised.”
The shoot-outs in Bannang Sata and Yaha districts of Yala, which involved paramilitary rangers and police, followed attempts to apprehend a number of insurgents reportedly preparing launch attacks to mark the anniversary, security forces said.
Security officers and insurgents exchanged gunfire at a checkpoint, and one person was killed in the shooting.
The remaining gunmen were then pursued into the jungle and further gun battles ensued, during which two suspects were shot dead. The three victims have yet to be identified. They were carrying three assault rifles and one handgun.
Both Prayuth and Yuthasak are visiting troops in the deep South as well as inspecting the security measures being put in place there.
The city of Hat Yai and its business district are among possible targets as the Krue Se anniversary approaches, officials said.
In a radio interview, Yuthasak said operations of the Internal Security Operations Command, should be expanded to cover the district level, in addition to the current provincial level.
Prayuth said the new information obtained from the April 29 meeting between authorities and insurgent representatives should also be shared by security agencies at ground level.
Srisomphob Jitphiromsri, peace activist and director of DeepSouth-Watch, said the Malaysia-brokered peace dialogue should have positive results, despite the continued violence and potential attacks during the anniversary.
He said the message displayed on the banners did not quite denounce the peace efforts, but rather, offered an opinion and an opportunity for the insurgents to present a united front.