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Five suspects hunted after deadly hostage-taking drama in deep South


AUTHORITIES have identified at least five suspected insurgents who took part in the bloody hostage-taking drama on Wednesday.

A group of insurgents stole six pickup trucks from a used car showroom in Songkhla province’s Na Thawee district on Wednesday to make car bombs to orchestrate violence in the predominantly Muslim region. 
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday declined to confirm the perpetrators were members of the separatist Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Two of the cars stolen were blown up in Pattani’s Nong Chik and Mayo districts on Wednesday and Thursday, although nobody was injured. One of hostages they took was shot dead while one of the attackers was also killed during the pursuit.
One of seven suspects has been arrested and police are seeking arrest warrants for four other suspects, Prawit said. He declined to give further details. 
Police 9th Region Commander Pol Lt-General Sakhon Thongmuni said he would seek the arrest warrants of the four suspects on Monday but did not confirm that anybody was arrested. However, officials in the deep South gave different information. 

Five suspects hunted after deadly hostage-taking drama in deep South
Commander of Pattani Task Force Maj-General Jatuporn Klampasut said there might be as many as 15 insurgents involved in the attacks on Wednesday. 
Only a few groups of insurgents operate in the area, he said. One cell is led by Sobeuree Jeha in Songkhla’s Sabayoi district and another is led by Ahama Sa-ie in Pattani’s Mayo district. 
The attack at Na Thawee’s Wangto Car Centre showroom was a coordinated operation by a group under Bukolee Lamso and Rosidee Buenae from Sabayoi as well as Manase Saidee from Pattani’s Muang district, he said. 
“We have monitored these cells closely and got intelligence information in advance, so we could have a quick response,” Jatuporn said.
“Now the situation is under control and we are searching for the bomb makers,” he said.
Violence has rocked the restive Southern provinces Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat as well as parts of neighbouring Songkhla, since early 2004 and claimed more than 6,800 lives so far. It is rare to have anybody claim responsibility for the violence with incidents occurring almost every day over the past decade. 
While authorities in Bangkok are struggling to reach them, the military government is now engaging with MARA Patani, a group claiming to be an umbrella organisation of the insurgents, including the BRN. 
Several attempts to establish so-called safety zones in many hot spots have failed since analysts point out MARA Patani did not really represent the militants on the ground. There are also several factions under the BRN, they said. 
Authorities proposed five different areas in the deep South as safety zones and have sent the proposal to the insurgent groups, according to Prawit. 
“We want the BRN and other groups to join otherwise the problem would not be fixed,” Prawit told reporters yesterday but declined to give an update on the progress of the talks. 

Published : August 18, 2017

By : THE NATION