Top insurgents targeted slain officer due to popularity among locals
Officials investigating a bomb attack that killed three police officers in Narathiwat's Rusoh district on Friday say they have identified several suspects, all of them leading insurgents.Pol Colonel Sathanfa Wamasingha said police had interviewed five witnesses and had got useful in-depth leads. Through a technical investigation and with the help of information from national security sources, police were able to identify six or seven suspects involved in the bombing, including leading insurgents Masukareunor Yakumo, Masuphian Yakumo, Humdan Maeroh, Ropae-ing Useng and Mahama Maeroh, Sathanfa said.
Following the bombing, some 100 officers of the "Narathiwat 30" special task force and Rusoh police raided about 100 targeted houses in Sawohulu in tambon Sawo, Ban Salow in tambon Rusoh and Ban Nakor in tambon Laloh, where the bombers were thought to have been hiding.
No arrests have yet been made, however.
National Police chief Adul Saengsingkaew yesterday morning inspected the scene where Pol Lt-Colonel Jakkrit Wongphrommes, Pol Sergeant Piya Phoophanwer and Pol Corporal Suwes Jantharangsee were slain and three others were seriously injured in Friday's bombing.
Adul said the Royal Thai Police would give Bt3 million in assistance money to the families of the three slain officers as well as promote them posthumously by seven ranks. He said the attack was premeditated by the insurgents, who had targeted Jakkrit because he was loved by the people and had received a lot of cooperation. After the bathing rite in Yala, Jakkrit's body would be sent for a funeral in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Suwes's funeral was to be held in Angthong and Piya's in Kalasin.
Thapanee Khiriwong, the wife of 49-year-old Jakkrit, who was known for dedicating himself to peace building while being instrumental in the suppression of insurgent activities and the foiling of several violent attacks, yesterday said she was proud that her husband had done his duty as a police officer up to his last moment.
Describing her late husband as a hard-working man who was concerned more for the public than for himself, she said she never thought this could happen to him. She said it was too soon to lose him, adding that she had just talked with him the previous night. She said those who did this to him were very cruel.
Pol Captain Somneuk Thongboonchoom from Rusoh Police Station said he was sad about losing a good supervisor like Jakkrit, who had always worked hard, starting his day at 3am, to ensure villagers in 72 villages in nine tambon were safe, while also boosting his subordinates' morale. For these reasons he was loved and respected by people, as seen in the cooperation they offered. He said Rusoh police would continue working hard according to Jakkrit's wishes.
Democrat Party deputy leader Thavorn Senniam offered condolences to the families of the slain policemen. He added that the separatists to whom the government would be talking soon might not represent all groups operating in the restive region, as the bombings continued. He urged locals and officials in the region to be extra cautious.
Urging the Thai representatives scheduled to attend the March 28 peace talks with separatists to keep Thailand's sovereignty in mind, as well as the unity of work (at the policy level and operative level) in the restive region, he said the government should assign a responsible person to visit and canvass operative officials and villagers to learn about the situation on the ground.
Meanwhile, in Yala's Yaha district, villager Maropi Rohim, 37, was shot dead by an unknown gunman at 7am while travelling to tap rubber trees.
Meanwhile, a poll by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) said 64.9 per cent of respondents believed peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) could lead to an end to the southern unrest, as negotiations were better than the use of force. However, 23.9 per cent believed otherwise, claiming that there should be no talks with the BRN, as any talks would be fruitless; attached too much importance to the insurgent group; and were just a political game. The poll was conducted among 1,669 people nationwide on March 14-15.