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3 suspected insurgents killed in Pattani

Jack Burton

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3 suspected insurgents killed in Pattani | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Police visit a colleague who was injured in a shootout with suspected insurgents as he receives treatment at a hospital in Pattani - Benar News
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Authorities shot and killed 3 suspected insurgents on Thursday in Pattani province in Thailand’s deep South, long the home of a bloody separatist insurgency. Security forces believe the men were planning to mount an attack during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The shootings are the first act of violence since Malaysia’s Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or National Revolutionary Front rebels declared in early April they were was ceasing “all activities” on humanitarian grounds because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the group warned it would resume operations if Thai government forces attacked its fighters.

Piyapong Wongchan, Pattani’s chief of police, says the raid took place before dusk a village in Nong Chik district, as residents of Thailand’s mainly Muslim Deep South were preparing to break their fast at the end of the seventh day of the holy month.

“Prior to the shootout, we received intelligence that a group of insurgents took a break in the area [before] they planned to exploit Ramadan to launch an attack. This morning informants found suspicious strangers hiding in an unregistered house.”

The raid turned violent as joint security forces surrounded a house in Pakaruesong village.

“As officials were circling the house and calling them out, the perpetrators opened fire.”

Piyapong says the 3 men in the house were killed and one police officer was injured in the shootout. He says arrest warrants had already been posted for all 3 men for their alleged involvement in other crimes.

Investigators say one of the men, Yusof Mometoh, participated in an August 2016 bombing in southern Thailand outside of the Deep South, one of several bombings over two days that killed four and injured more than 30 people. Most of the attacks targetted southern tourist hotspots including Phuket and Hua Hin.

Matamesee Sa-e, the second slain suspect, has been charged with looting a gold shop last year, and the third, Abdul Yasi Pakya, has been charged for his role in the bombing of a Big C superstore in Pattani in 2017. BenarNews could not contact their survivors on Thursday.

An army spokesman say authorities have been put on alert to safeguard the region from possible bombings.

“Though Ramadan is a holy month for doing good deeds, we found perpetrators who were trying to mount attacks.”

More than 7,000 people have died in the Deep South since the insurgency reignited in January 2004. The region encompasses the Malay-speaking provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, as well as four districts in neighboring Songkhla.

In a YouTube posting on Thursday, a BRN spokesman blamed the government for taking advantage of the Covid-19 shutdown across the region to launch the raid.

“The BRN condemns the Thai government for this inhumanity and we hope that all people are looking forward to managing their villages against the outbreaks and the abusive regime.”

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | BenarNews

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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Roadside ambush in Pattani kills 1 and injures another

Anukul

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Roadside ambush in Pattani kills 1 and injures another | The Thaiger
PHOTO: dailynews.co.th

Last night southern police reported that at 7pm a paramilitary ranger was shot dead and another injured in a roadside ambush in Sai Buri district in the Pattani province. There has been an unofficial ceasefire between the insurgent factions and government soldiers and rangers, during April and the height of the Covid-19 crisis, but that now seems to be over.

An initial investigation revealed that 2 men from the 44th Ranger Regiment – 31 year old Sitthichai Pakdiphan and 28 year old Pongchai Pongthong – were travelling on a motorcycle after going through a health screening checkpoint to buy food at a nearby village.

Roadside ambush in Pattani kills 1 and injures another | News by The Thaiger

As they neared a bridge, a group of men on the roadside opened fire at them. Sitthichai was hit in the head and the back. He died on the spot. Pongchai was shot in the right arm.

Due to the lack of information about the incident authorities have set a 500 metre premier around the crime scene for further investigation

SOURCE: Bangkok Post / Thai Rath

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First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand

Jack Burton

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First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nikkei Asian Review

Last month was the first in 16 years in which there were no insurgent attacks on Thai forces or civilians, either in Thailand’s restive Deep South or elsewhere. The country’s three Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat, all around Malaysia’s northern border, have been embroiled in a bloody separatist insurgency for the best part of two decades.

More than 7,000 people have been killed by violence and many more injured in fighting, which has often seen civilians targetted.

But the coronavirusoutbreak has prompted an ad-hoc ceasefire between the Thai government forces and the mainly ethnic Malay separatists. The main militant group operating in the area, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, released a statement Friday saying that the “cessation of all activities” is “to provide humanitarian access to all parties to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic.”

The group says that the ceasefire was to remain as long as the BRN was not attacked by the Thai government, according to documents shared by Human Rights Watch. (NOTE: 3 suspected insurgents were killed in a firefight with Thai forces on Thursday after a raid on their house in Pattani. All three were wanted criminals.)

The BRN also criticised the Thai government for continuing house searches, arbitrary arrests and DNA collection.

“We call upon the Royal Thai Government to reciprocate and prioritise Covid-19 prevention over war at this time.”

First month in 16 years with no insurgency attacks in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Peace talks between the BRN and the Thai Government have made slow progress in recent months but have been derailed by the coronavirus outbreak. In March, the two sides met in Kuala Lumpur for face-to-face meetings, 6 years after the BRN’s last dialogue with the Thai government. The talks were described as “constructive” and focused on reducing levels of violence.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand has meant the government placing its priorities elsewhere, as lockdown measures were enacted to curtail the virus’ spread.

Sources within the Thai army tell the Thai Enquirer that right now the army and the Ministry of Public Health are focused on containing the virus in the South, which is the site of the largest outbreak outside of Bangkok.

“The insurgency and peace talks can wait until after we have this under control.”

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

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Soldiers injured in Narathiwat bomb attack

Jack Burton

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Soldiers injured in Narathiwat bomb attack | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

A bomb attack in the southern province of Narathiwat has injured two army rangers. Narathiwat along with neighbouring provinces Pattani and Yala, and also known as the three Southern Border Provinces, are home to Thailand’s Southern Insurgency. The attack occured on Friday night.

Eight rangers were returning to their base when the roadside bomb went off. They had been helping with a cleaning activity at local mosque to stem the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. The homemade bomb was planted near a roadside power pole and detonated when their pickup truck passed by. The blast wounded two soldiers who were travelling in the back of the pickup truck. They were rushed to hospital.

Police, soldiers and a bomb squad who went to the scene found a heavily damaged power pole and shrapnel scattered around the area. The pickup was partly damaged, according to the Bangkok Post.
Authorities believed the bomb contained about 25 kilograms of explosive and was the work of Muslim insurgents targeting security forces.

Last week, 25 people were injured when two bombs were set off outside a Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre in Yala. Authorities there were meeting on Covid-19 prevention at the time of the explosion.

A Facebook page linked to supporters of the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional), the largest insurgent group in the region, appeared to warn of an imminent attacks, and photos of the attack scene were later posted with the words “as promised.”

Police say attackers drew people to the spot by tossing a handheld explosive into the yard of the building, then remotely detonated a car bomb in front of the compound.

“While officials were meeting on Covid-19, two men on a motorcycle tossed a bomb over the fence. Later the car bomb was set off. At least 25 were injured, including the deputy director of the SBPAC. On a surveillance camera, we found a pickup truck carrying wood was parked at the site before the explosion.”

The driver left the scene with a man on a motorcycle, according to officials.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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