April 08, 2014 00:00 By Pakorn Puengnetr The Nation
The bombings in Yala on Sunday and yesterday may stem from four factors, including a challenge by insurgents to the new commander of Army Region 4, Lt Gen Walit Rojanapakdee, a national security agency source said yesterday.
Walit had visited the Khuhamuk Buddhist community in Yala’s Muang district hours before the bombings, as one of his first assignments.
The blasts on Sunday included one at Raja Furniture on Sirorote Road in which a car bomb was set off, killing an unknown person. It is two years since the last car bomb was reported in Yala city – on March 31, 2012, at the “safety zone” intersection of Ruammit and Jongrak roads. That blast, which claimed 10 lives, took place on the same day of a bombing in Hat Yai.
Besides being a challenge to Walit and Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Forward Com-mand at Yarang district’s Sirindhorn Camp, only a kilometre from some bomb sites, the source suggested the bombings could have resulted from insurgents’ inability to mount an attack last month because of beefed-up security. March also included symbolic days such as the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) founding day on March 13 and the second anniversary of the Hat Yai and Yala car bombings on March 31.
The third factor was security may have been looser than usual, as officers were exhausted from operations last month, while some men were sent to Bangkok for protest-related operations. Intelligence may also have been lacking, as the bombings occurred despite previous warnings of pre-Songkran blasts in Yala.
Fourth, bombings in downtown Yala may be aimed at scaring the public, so they believe insurgents have the potential to create violence at any time and anywhere, the source added.
Other security sources said the attacks in Yala’s commercial area, as well as previous killings of innocent people in the region, suggested insurgents were back “full on” against the government. This may relate to BRN’s YouTube announcement in December that it would no longer participate in the peace dialogue with Thailand.
Last year when the dialogue was ongoing, attacks focused on state officers, with a significant reduction in attacks on innocent citizens. Rumours that the dialogue had failed spread while violence rose, despite Malaysian facilitator Ahmad Zamzamin bin Hashim’s February comment that talks would resume once Thailand sorted out its political conflicts.
All in all, it seems that the Bt200 billion spent to tackle violence over the past 11 years has evaporated in the explosions that claimed many lives.