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District in Thailand’s south declared Special Control Zones

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District in Thailand’s south declared Special Control Zones | The Thaiger
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Special report from Chularat Saengpassa – The Nation

“We have no idea what will happen next. The soldiers have been keeping a close eye on people going in and out of the village.”

Locals in parts of Pattani’s Nong Chik district now live in fear due to the strong military presence in their hometown.

“We are scared and don’t want to leave our home these days,” said Nuda, whose husband has been under military custody since Sunday.

In an unprecedented move, the Forward Command of the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 declared tambons Bang Khao and Tha Kham Cham of Nong Chik district as “special control zones” on Sonday. It’s the first time in a decade the declaration of a Special Control Zone has been made.

Residents in these zones are required to produce any weapons, ammunition and vehicles, including boats and motorcycles, they may possess for military examination at the Nong Chik District Office. They have until next Sunday to comply.

“We have no idea what will happen next. The soldiers have been keeping a close eye on people going in and out of the village,” Nuda added.

The forward command has taken drastic action in response to a recent attack on six rangers. On the night of September 11, six rangers were patrolling Tambon Bang Khao when more than 10 unknown gunmen opened fire on them. Though outnumbered, the rangers fought back until the gunmen retreated. Two rangers were killed and four injured in the incident.

Survivors said their attackers had disappeared into the forest, giving weight to a possible theory that the attackers might be locals, as they appeared to be familiar with the area.

The military has arrested eight suspects following the attack, including Nuda’s 28 year old husband.

“I don’t believe he took part in the attack as he works in a local factory and rushes home after work every day,” she said.

Nuda explained that she and her husband were dining with their children at home on Sunday night when more than 30 armed soldiers showed up, scoured the house and led her husband away.

“The soldiers took my husband around the house at gunpoint as they conducted a thorough search,” she recounted, adding that they even took away her phone, which made life difficult.

On Monday, she and some neighbours went to a local branch of the National Human Rights Commission to lodge a complaint and seek help.

Pornpen Kongkachornkiat, director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation, said she was worried about the blanket measures used by the military.

“It will only sow distrust,” she said.

“I have nothing against the attack being investigated, but I disagree with the measures the military is using.”

However, Fourth Army Region’s chief Lt-General Piyawat Nakwanich, who signed the order just two weeks ahead of his retirement, defended the measures taken.

“We are implementing these measures for people’s safety. The claims of persecution are invalid as we have taken action based on evidence,” he explained.

He added that four of the suspects had confessed to the crime and provided details about the incident.

District in Thailand's south declared Special Control Zones | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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Transport

Thailand’s land bridge plan still floating

Maya Taylor

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Thailand’s land bridge plan still floating | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.skyscrapercity.com

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul says the government is still mulling the idea of a land bridge between the southern provinces of Ranong and Chumphon. The project’s aim would be to improve the infrastructure in the region by connecting the Gulf of Thailand directly with the Andaman Sea, “thereby making the Kingdom more competitive”. In a report in the Bangkok Post, she says the idea would be to better connect Middle Eastern and European oil producers with importers and manufacturers in Japan, South Korea and China.

Currently shipping from the two parts of the world needs to detour down the Mallacca Straits and swing around Singapore before continuing their journeys northward again. The land bridge would provide a more direct route but needs infrastructure for cargo to pass across the Malay Peninsula, aka. the Isthmus of Kra.

“Prime Minister Prayut gave us the guideline that we must be prudent and look at financial feasibility, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and public acceptance. This land bridge project is a strategy to link the Middle East and East Asia via Thailand.”

It’s understood a feasibility study being carried out by the Ministry of Transport will take around a year to complete, followed by 2 more years to get all the necessary approvals and processes lined up prior to construction beginning. The land bridge would consist of a 130 kilometre motorway and a 2-track railway between the provinces of Chumphon and Ranong. These would connect deep-sea ports in both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, reducing travel time by 2 days.

The government is looking at development that can connect the Southern Economic Corridor region, which includes Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat, with the Eastern Economic Corridor of Chon Buri and Rayong.

The latest plans replace the much-discussed about Kra Canal project, which would have seen a canal crossing the country just south of Phuket and Krabi, creating a shorter journey time from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. After being discussed for decades, the project has currently been shelved “on environmental grounds”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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South

Pattani ranger volunteer killed in bomb explosion, 2 others shot in ambush

Caitlin Ashworth

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Pattani ranger volunteer killed in bomb explosion, 2 others shot in ambush | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thaisaeree

A ranger volunteer was killed from a bomb explosion after an ambush in Pattani’s Sai Buri district in Southern Thailand. Gunmen in the ambush shot and injured 2 volunteers.

A team of officers protecting teachers were driving on motorcycles through the district when they were ambushed by gunmen, police say. The alleged gunmen opened fire on the group, shooting 33 year old volunteer Watchara Chaikaew in the cheek and 35 year old volunteer Sutthichai Yawa in the right shin.

The wounded volunteers were admitted to the hospital. The Bangkok Post did not report on their condition.

About 2 hours later, while rangers were combing the site, a ranger volunteer accidently stepped on a bomb that was hidden in the bushes, killing him. 3 other volunteers reported chest pain and ringing ears after the explosion.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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