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South Crisis

Teacher, two rangers killed in South attacks; ATMs bombed

Paradorn puts blame on groups opposed to peace process with BRN

INSURGENTS LAUNCHED a series of coordinated arson and bomb attacks in the deep South late on Tuesday, mostly targeting banks to damage their automatic teller machines.

In two other attacks, one in Pattani fatally wounded a teacher, and the other in Narathiwat killed two Army paramilitary rangers and wounded five others.

Officials said 34 locations were under attack, damaging or gutting a large number of ATM machines belonging to various private and government banks or those attached to convenience stores.

Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog said the attacks were symbolic and marked the anniversaries of two insurgent groups - Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), which was established on October 10, and Patani United Liberation Organization (Pulo) on October 11.

Three attacks were conducted in the Yawi-speaking district of Saba Yoi in Songkhla, while the remainder, involving either small-sized incendiary bombs or the torching of car tyres to block roads, took place in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, said Colonel Pramote Phrome-in, of the Internal Security Operations Centre's forward base.

The military viewed the attacks as attempts to destabilise the region economically apart from demoralising the local public, said the spokesman. The colonel also called on residents to condemn the attacks.

There were no prior warnings from security agencies about the attacks, which are traditionally given at national level and from local offices in charge of security in the deep South.

The death of Waena Munoh, a teacher at Ban Johkeuyae in the Pattani attack on Tuesday night, brought the death toll of teachers to 165.

The victim, 55, was sleeping in her living quarters guarded by soldiers when she was hit by stray bullets shot into the complex by attacking insurgents. They had stolen two fire trucks and replaced the water with fuel, and were preparing to spray an entire living quarter with it before setting it on fire. Two suspects have been apprehended for questioning for this attack.

In the bomb attack in Narathiwat yesterday morning, a three-vehicle convoy belonging to the 46th Ranger Regiment was blasted with a roadside bomb while on a patrol. The blast hit the middle vehicle killing one ranger instantly; a second was pronounced dead in hospital, while five others were wounded. Fourteen teenage men at a nearby teashop have been apprehended for questioning.

National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattana-thabutr said the attacks were likely conducted by those opposed to an ongoing peace process between Thai authorities and the BRN. He said there would possibly be more attacks in the next few days, then they would cease - but he did not explain why.

In another bomb attack, a roadside bomb hit a vehicle belonging to a Ranger company, causing minor injuries to the crew and slight damage to the vehicle. This attack took place in Pattani's Sai Buri district late on Tuesday night and into yesterday morning.


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