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Tackle insurgency, junta urged

Muslim villagers shop for clothes at a market in the southern province of Narathiwat yesterday, ahead of the Eid ul-Fitr festival. The two-day festival, which begins after the sighting of the crescent moon, marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ram

Muslim villagers shop for clothes at a market in the southern province of Narathiwat yesterday, ahead of the Eid ul-Fitr festival. The two-day festival, which begins after the sighting of the crescent moon, marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ram

Deep South business leaders want NCPO to come up with immediate new measures to deal with festering problem

Business leaders in the southern border region yesterday urged the ruling junta to come up with clear measures to deal with insurgent violence in the restive region.

The call came just a day after Yala's Betong district, regarded as one of the most peaceful towns in the far South, was rocked by a deadly car bomb on Friday.

The latest attack left two people dead and 42 wounded.

Yala Chamber of Commerce chairman Noppong Thiraworn said that with its extensive powers after the coup, the National Council for Peace and Order was in a good position to tackle the violence effectively.

"I believe that the NCPO now has enough information about the insurgency violence over the past decade to come up with concrete measures to solve the problem," Noppong said.

"It's time that the NCPO makes it clear what has to be done to deal with the problem. Although some people may say we are going in the right direction, things should not be allowed to continue like this, or the problem will go on and on without an end.

"The NCPO should come up with new measures that can effectively tackle the problem of insurgency violence. The measures should give us more hope than before."

Noppong said the perpetrators of Friday's attack deserved condemnation for targeting innocent people, whether the crime was aimed at destroying the local economy or terrifying locals.

Songkhla Chamber of Commerce chairman Somporn Siriporananont made a similar call.

He said it was time for the NCPO to take an important role in confronting the issue "in order to return true happiness to people in the southern border areas".

He was referring to the military junta's motto of "returning happiness to the people", which it coined following the May 22 coup.

Somporn said the new structure of state agencies dealing with problems in the deep South - with changes made post-coup - had provided some hope to locals and should be implemented immediately.

He said seven major economic towns and cities in the deep South were now on alert for possible insurgency attacks ahead of the end of Ramadan early this week.

They are downtown Yala, Betong in Pattani, downtown Narathiwat, Narathiwat's Tak Bai and Sungai Kolok, and Songkhla's Hat Yai.

Betong's former mayor Wuth Mongkolprachak said the latest attack had a psychological impact on locals and the authorities.

He noted that the previous attack in Betong occurred eight years ago.

Betong was much quieter than usual yesterday as many locals remained at home and tourists cancelled trips to the area.

Hundreds of cancellations were made by tourists from Malaysia and Singapore, who were expected to celebrate the Eid ul-Fitr festival at the end of the fasting month.

Local businesses and residents in areas around the bomb site cleaned up debris caused by the explosion.






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