A ROADSIDE bomb killed six troops and injured four others as they were on patrol in the restive South yesterday, Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) officers said, adding that a spike in insurgent violence was expected before the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Saturday.
The roadside bomb went off at 11.30am as 10 Pattani Task Force soldiers rode in a pickup to patrol Pattani’s Thung Yang Daeng district. The powerful explosion completely destroyed the vehicle the soldiers were riding in.
Army Chief Chalermchai Sitthisart expressed his condolences to families of the soldiers and praised their sacrifice for the sake of peace in the predominantly Muslim region, according to Isoc spokesman Pramote Promin.
Police had collected evidence at the scene and would use forensic techniques to identify the suspected insurgents and bring them to justice, he said.
The attack took place as soldiers have sought to assure the security of the region as the Muslim majority performs religious activities during the holy month, he said.
Insurgents wanted to create trouble in the region to disturb the public during Ramadan, said Isoc deputy spokesman Yutthanam Petmuang.
The soldiers who were killed would get posthumous promotions from the Army and their families would receive aid, he said.
Master Sergeant First Class Somprach Sriwaja would be posthumously promoted to the rank of colonel and his family would receive Bt3 million while the five slain privates would be promoted to Master Sergeant First Class and their families would receive Bt2 million, he said.
The decades-old, low-intensity rebellion in the deep South erupted in renewed violence in early 2004, with more than 6,800 people killed since then, while authorities in Bangkok have struggled to restore peace. Violence takes place almost every day but no single insurgent group has taken responsibility.
As a result, the military government’s attempts to engage in peace talks have faltered as the militants responsible for the violence on the ground are not represented by a coherent, publicly acknowledged leadership that could engage in negotiations.