Security measures have been beefed up in the deep South following Friday's car bombing in Pattani's Sai Buri district, which killed six people and wounded some 50 others.
Pattani Governor Theera Minthasak said the insurgents had shifted from attacking officials to terrorising city residents and destroying the economy, in an attempt to discredit the state. He called for security to be beefed up, saying Friday’s bombing might have been carried out by the same group that attacked the CS Pattani Hotel and a Honda showroom last month.
He reported that 26 injured persons remained hospitalised.
Combined forces of the Army and police tightened security in four Songkhla districts bordering the restive southernmost region. Songkhla residents were urged to look out for 10 stolen cars that might be used as car bombs, while officials manned strict checkpoints in Chana district to prevent any violence spilling over into Muang and Hat Yai districts.
However, the regional unrest continued yesterday with a roadside bomb attack at 11am in Narathiwat’s Chanae district, which wounded a defence volunteer, Yasa Jehsor, 24.
Following a report of a suspected bomb discovery, Yasa and rangers from the 46th Rangers Regiment inspected the item. Insurgents detonated the bomb from a hidden location, causing Yasa’s left leg to be injured by shrapnel.
Speaking on “The Yingluck Government Meets the People” TV programme, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapha rejected criticism that the operational centre for the Committee to Mobilise Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces, which will be formally established by the premier soon, was redundant. He said it would act as a secretariat working with the Internal Security Operations Command and Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre to streamline intelligence gathering.
Discussions between the government and the opposition on tackling the southern unrest had gone well and the government believed that the Democrat Party’s nine-point proposal was valuable, Yutthasak said.
Some of the suggestions had already been implemented, some were in the planning stages and others were under consideration, he said.
He said the decision of 93 insurgents to lay down their arms and surrender to the authorities was a good thing and in line with the government’s policy to solve the unrest using peaceful means. However, he admitted that the government still had a 30-per-cent shortage of manpower in the region, hence soldiers from other areas would be deployed, and withdrawn once peace was restored. He said the situation in the region would gradually improve.
National Security Council deputy secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr revealed a plan for next year to revoke the Emergency Decree in some areas of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. He said the violence was limited to about 12-15 per cent of those provinces, while the remaining 85 per cent had not seen attacks.
Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej unveiled a plan to seek Cabinet’s approval to boost the number of teachers in the South by 10 per cent and provide scholarships to the children of victims of the unrest.