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Train bombing may derail peace talks

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Train bombing may derail peace talks | The Thaiger

THAILAND: Thais in the deep South continue to endure regular violent attacks, despite ongoing peace talks in Malaysia.

Trains operating in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat have been suspended for 10 days after another bomb exploded on the railway line on Friday.

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) ordered the temporary suspension of train services to the three southernmost provinces in the country after the bomb went off on the tracks in Pattani.

Manop Muenpreecha, chief of Tanyongmas train station in Narathiwat, said his station alone would lose revenue of at least 30,000 baht a day due to the suspension of rail services. The loss of revenue for the entire region was not revealed.

Travelling by train is a regular mode of transport for residents here, he said, but parents would now have to rent a car to take their children to school.

Yala train station, which usually serves about 3,000 passengers a day, wore a deserted look the day after the bombing.

The attack killed one railway official and wounded three others.

The blast led to the derailment of the train and the rear carriage was severely damaged. The local train was leaving Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat and heading for Hat Yai in Songkhla province when the explosion occurred.

Officials said the train had been targeted by insurgents, who have orchestrated violence throughout the region since early 2004. More than 6,500 people have been killed since then.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday but Pattani provincial police chief Maj Gen Thanogsak Wangsupha said militants led by Seri Taemamu might be responsible for the attack.

Authorities had their names on a watchlist but the officer declined to give further details. He said officials were working on the case and would hunt for them.

The train attack happened just a day after peace talks in Kuala Lumpur between government representatives and separatist umbrella group MARA Patani.

The talks in Malaysia made little progress as both sides just agreed in principle on the terms of reference for the peace process but did not make any agreement in written form. This action has raised suspicion among observers as to whether or not both sides really want to restore peace.

MARA Patani, an umbrella group of long-standing Malay separatist organizations in the Muslim-majority southern border provinces, established contact with the authorities last year to get a peace process started.

The military government under Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha was reluctant to recognize the role of the group and doubts if it really represents militants operating on the ground or has any capacity to control them.

Meanwhile, some analysts said MARA Patani also did not want to negotiate with the military government, which is due to leave office after an election late next year. This has caused uncertainty about the peace process.

However, with the junta showing an intention to stay in power longer and the possibility of Gen Prayuth retaining power after the election, the MARA Patani group had no choice but to maintain the momentum of the talks in Kuala Lumpur, an observer said.

Despite dispatching senior officer General Aksara Kerdphol to the talks, Gen Prayuth said his government would not accept any conditions set by the group to initiate talks unless peace was restored.

Another observer said the meeting in Malaysia at the end of August yielded only one thing – that both sides would continue their contact.

— The Nation

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Riot police officer in Bangkok tests positive for Covid-19

Caitlin Ashworth

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Riot police officer in Bangkok tests positive for Covid-19 | The Thaiger
Protest in Bangkok on February 28 / Photo by Thai News Pix

A riot police officer, who was deployed at the recent pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, has tested positive for Covid-19. His supervisor, chief of Wang Thonglang station Ekapop Tanprayoon, says the officer had visited Samut Sakhon, a coronavirus hotspot.

Riot police who worked closely with the infected officer, Somyot Nuamcharoen, are ordered to quarantine. The Wang Thonglang police station and any items the police officer handled are being disinfected, the chief says.

The officer had met up with friends during a visit to Samut Sakhon, just southwest of Bangkok. He travelled to the coastal province on February 18 and returned to Bangkok the next day.

On the 20th, he was deployed to a protest outside of parliament, just after returning from his trip to the “red zone” province. On Sunday, he deployed the protest outside the military barracks in Bangkok. The demonstration turned violent and numerous people were injured.

On Tuesday, his friend from Samut Sakhon tested positive for the virus. The infected officer was tested for Covid-19 that day and his result came back positive yesterday.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Transport

“Sealed route” set at Bangkok airport for international transfers

Caitlin Ashworth

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“Sealed route” set at Bangkok airport for international transfers | The Thaiger
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok / Photo by Caitlin Ashworth

Thailand is now allowing international transits and transfers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport by using a so-called “sealed route” arranged at the airport to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has now set guidelines for passengers who have a layover at the Bangkok airport.

Passengers will not be allowed to leave Concourse E. A “sealed route” for the passengers will be set up at Gate E10 and E9, allowing passengers to enter the airport at Gate E10, go through security screening and then either board the transit aircraft at Gate E9 or go on a designated shuttle bus directly to an aircraft.

Social distancing is required for all passengers in waiting areas and a face mask must be worn at all times. The CAAT says food and beverage services will be available at the airport’s “sealed route” waiting area, but there will be “active oversight” on the services. Areas will also be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Passengers must present required documents…

  • A fit-to-fly health certificate
  • Medical certificate declaring a negative Covid-19 result issued no more than 72 hours before departure
  • Travel health insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment expenses up to $100,000 USD

If demand increases, the airport will add Gates E5, E7 and E8 to the sealed route. If Concourse E is under maintenance, then Concourse F will be used under the same plan.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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