PHUKET TOWN: Pol Col Paween Pongsirin, Superintendent of Phuket Town Police Station, held a meeting today attended by more than 40 police officers and about 50 other people from Phuket Town, including entertainment venue managers, tuk-tuk drivers and religious leaders, to work out how to improve security strategy after the Bali bombing. Col Paween told the meeting, “From what happened in Bali we can see that the target was not the place, but the tourists. Phuket is also a tourist destination, so we have to be ready for the situation. “However, our security strategy will be subtle; we don’t want to call attention to it because we don’t know yet who the [Bali] terrorists were – we don’t want to show our hand.” Some strategies were laid out, however. For example, car rental businesses will now have to check customer’s documents and take copies of them, to make it easier to track down suspects if an incident occurs. Pol Lt Col Veerasin Kwanseng, Deputy Superintendent of Phuket Town Police Station, said, “Bombers won’t usually use their own car. So the rental business owners need to explain to tourists, who sometimes don’t bring a passport or any form of ID, that we are doing this to ensure everyone’s safety.” Col Veerasin also said that the Phuket Provincial Police have asked for a unit of the Royal Thai Police bomb squad to be stationed in Phuket. Businesses such as entertainment venues were asked to cooperate with the police because much more frequent checks will be made on these venues, and churches and mosques will be required to give police schedules of gatherings so that police can be there when they take place. Police officers will also be briefing security guards around the island on what to do when they see something suspicious, such as unidentified cars parked overnight, or luggage or boxes left unattended. Police checkpoints around the island will be increased, especially at the boundaries between districts and at piers. Cdr Boonchart Prompoon of the Phuket International Airport said, “Even though it doesn’t appear that we are likely to be a target, our security systems are now on high alert. “Anything left unattended for five minutes will be checked. We have also increased our closed-circuit TV monitoring and have posted more guards in high-risk areas such as the parking lot.”
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