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Who are real insurgent leaders, Prayuth asks

In his weekly TV address last night, junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said the authorities had to be better prepared and needed to work on finding out who the actual leaders of the insurgents are.

"We are holding negotiations with main groups, but other minor groups still continue using force. The groups we have negotiated with are trying to pressure us and want to achieve the outcomes that they desire.

"We have to attempt to hold joint negotiations with all groups covering all dimensions - development, ceasefire, laws and issues concerning injustice by setting up several committees to expedite negotiations.

"Currently, politics takes priority over military action to create an understanding."

This was the first time Prayuth had spoken about the situation in the South at any length.

Betong police chief transferred

Meanwhile, the police chief of Betong in Yala has been transferred to make way for an internal investigation after last week's devastating car-bomb, provincial police chief Pol Maj-General Songkiat Wathakul said yesterday.

Pol Colonel Wasan Phuangnoi will be replaced by the chief of Krong Penang police station, he said, adding that the transfer order would go into effect from tomorrow. Songkiat said the investigators would see whether Wasan was at fault, if it was a human error, or the system needed to be improved.

Civilian authorities in Betong are also reviewing the security measures that are jointly handled by police and military, Songkiat said.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) General Udomdej Sitabutr said yesterday that the number of violent incidents by insurgents during Ramadan this year was a lot lower than in the same period last year. Ramadan 2013 saw 107 incidents, while this year there were 30. However, he said there were nine more deaths this year though the number of injured had dropped by 50 per cent.

The general spoke at a key meeting of senior officials attached to a centre set up to deal with violence in the area. He said General Prayuth was very concerned about the situation and wished to see progress in lawsuits related to insurgent violence.

Prayuth has also ordered tighter security in large cities to deal with the insurgents' objective of instilling fear in urban areas, as well as a renewed focus on small-operation tactics and a balance between offensive and defensive efforts, he said.

Udomdej, meanwhile, declined to respond when asked about a leader of the insurgent movement Barisan Revolusi Nasional arranging a meeting in Malaysia to plan new terror attacks in the South.


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