Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra travelled to the deep South yesterday, when another attack targeting state officials took place.
Two volunteer rangers were killed in a roadside bomb blast in Narathiwat’s Rangae district. The victims, Sophon Mosom and Kongkiat Kaendee, died in the explosion while riding a motorcycle to buy supplies at a market.
Witnesses said unidentified militants opened fire following the explosion of 10-kilogram home-made bomb before fleeing the scene. They also stole the victims’ two assault rifles.
The prime minister yesterday dismissed any link between the killing of the Yala deputy provincial governor and the government’s peace negotiations with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Violence has continued unabated in the restive South. In fact, insurgents have stepped up operations with the bomb on Friday killing Yala deputy provincial governor Issara Thongthawat and another high-ranking official travelling with him in the same car.
Yingluck said she did not think the incident had anything to do with the peace talks, which have not really started. “The atmosphere of the negotiations is different. Please do not link the two. Look at the talks as an opportunity to create understanding, which takes time. The government wants to listen to everyone’s opinion to reduce conflict and bring peace to the South,’’ she said.
Yingluck was speaking after visiting Satopa Jeloh, driver of the car that carried the deputy governor and was hit by the bomb, before leaving Yala to join Issara’s funeral ceremony in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Satopa has remained in the intensive care unit in Yala following Friday’s bomb attack.
The prime minister said yesterday that Issara’s killing should not be linked to the peace dialogue between the National Security Council and the BRN insurgency.
Yingluck was speaking on the sidelines of her inspection trip to the South. One of her activities was to pay the hospital visit to Satopa. She also attended the funeral of Issara.
The PM insisted the dialogue would be carried on despite the surge of violent attacks against officials and soldiers.
Senator Anusat Suwanmon-gkol said yesterday the PM could not deny that since the government had started peace talks with the BRN, the number of victims from the insurgency had risen. Insurgents are targeting high-ranking officials like the deputy governor, and the insurgency had become more inhumane with the abduction and slaying of a soldier.
“Insurgents have stepped up their operation and this is a result of the government’s hasty decision to open talks. The government must review its peace talks plan,” said Anusat, who is chairman of the Senate panel for the rehabilitation of people affected by violence in the South.
The senator also criticised National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut for remarking that violent incidents that took place during peace talks were normal. “He talks as if he has no regard for the feelings of local people,’’ he said.
Prince of Songkla University lecturer Srisompop Jitpiromsri said the recent attacks might be aiming at provoking the authorities to resort to harsh suppression measures. Should the suppression happen, the peace dialogue might be in jeopardy, he said.