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Southern intelligence contradicts Deputy PM over Songkhla bomb motives

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Southern intelligence contradicts Deputy PM over Songkhla bomb motives | The Thaiger

The deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan, and national security chief, is linking the Wednesday night bomb attacks in Songkhla to local politics in the southern province. This contradicts intelligence units on the ground who suspect the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) were behind the blasts, in an attempt to disturb the southern business hub. The BRN are the main political organisation linked to the southern insurgency.

There were no casualties but two blasts on Wednesday night blew off the tail of a mermaid statue on Simila Beach in Songkhla. Five more bombs were found and defused in the vicinity of the beach, a famous tourist attraction in the southern province.

Two other explosions damaged electricity transmission poles in the province’s Khuan Niang district, also on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, officials defused four bombs yesterday in Bang Klam district.

Prawit, who as deputy PM and defence minister oversees security matters says he was confident the incidents had nothing to do with the insurgency in the deep South, claiming that security authorities already knew who was behind the Simila Beach attack.

“The aim was to cause chaos during the New Year festival. The attacks may have stemmed from internal political problems in the province, though we cannot rule out separatists,” he said, without elaborating.

The explosions coincided with Prawit’s visit to the province to distribute land-title deeds among local people. The junta, which seized power in 2014, plans to call a general election in February next year.

However, security officials on the ground said operative cells of BRN had triggered the blasts to damage the southern business hub during the New Year season, as foreign visitors from neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia were about to flock to the area.

Evidence found at the scene indicated that the bomb was detonated by an electronic clock, suggesting the work of BRN insurgents, according to officials. Intelligence information also indicated that some operative cells of the group had been active in the area over the past weeks, an official said.

“The public should not panic. I have already ordered police reinforcements and stronger screening of people to build public confidence,” he said yesterday.

Unlike Prawit, Srivara reckoned the attack was aimed at causing turmoil during the festive period and did not have anything to do with local politics.

Southern intelligence contradicts Deputy PM over Songkhla bomb motives | News by The Thaiger Southern intelligence contradicts Deputy PM over Songkhla bomb motives | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Insurgency

Facial recognition security push in Thailand’s South

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Facial recognition security push in Thailand’s South | The Thaiger

Concerns are being raised over the move to force all mobile phone users in Thailand’s South to submit their photos for facial-recognition identification. The edict says those who fail to do so by October 31 will have their mobile phone service blocked.

The Cross Cultural Foundation says the order given to Thailand’s telecom operators was ‘racial profiling’.

“The use of facial-recognition technology risks violating people’s privacy and freedom. It also mean users could be discriminated against. Racial profiling may lead to the arrest and prosecution of the innocent.”

The predominantly Muslim provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces, and four border districts of Songkhla, namely Chana, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi and Thepha, are the areas covered under the new security arrangements. These areas have been hit by insurgency-related violence that has claimed thousands of lives over the past 15 years, including security officials and civilians.

In the face of the violence, the region is under an emergency decree with a heavy military presence and limitations on people’s basic rights.

Cross Cultural Foundation director, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, says the NBTC should publicly explain why cellphone users’ photos must now be collected and what assurances service providers would offer that images would not be leaked to unauthorised persons.

“We are worried that these pictures may be abused,” Pornpen said.

She said that in her experience, a suspected insurgent arrested for possessing a single gun could easily be charged with 10 more offences, often without grounds.

“What charges will a person face if their SIM card happens to be found at a crime scene?” she asked.

Korreeyor Manuchae, an independent lawyer and a Yala resident, said many locals did not trust state officials and were thus wary of the requirement to submit their pictures.

“We don’t oppose the move. But we are worried about it,” she said. She added that family members of suspects were often coerced into providing DNA samples by security agencies.

National Human Rights Commission member Angkhana Neelapaijit is among those who received a surprise short text on her cellphone from ISOC4, telling her to re-register her SIM card with her picture on June 21.

ISOC4 is associated with the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, the agency tasked with security matters in the deep South.

Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Forward Command of the ISOC4, said the ISOC had simply helped raise awareness of the timeframe for people to submit their photos.

“But we have not sent any short text messages to all cellphone users. We don’t know their numbers,” he said. Earlier, he complained of how SIM cards sold online were often used in bomb attacks in the deep South.

Meanwhile, PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha is urging residents of the deep South to comply with the new rule.

“Just a photo is needed to prove your identity. It’s not a violation of rights.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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Crime

Four arrested as police intercept 572 kilograms of marijuana heading south

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Four arrested as police intercept 572 kilograms of marijuana heading south | The Thaiger

Four suspects have been arrested after police intercepted an attempt to smuggle 572 kilograms of marijuana from Mukdahan to Songkhla.

The deputy Phatthalung police chief says that two suspects were arrested in Phatthalung in a pick-up truck carrying the drugs, along with a couple who were arrested in a car that was driving ahead to advise of any checkpoints ahead.

Acting on a tip-off, police monitored the two vehicles from Khuan Khanun district before they made the arrests in the main city district of Phattalung.

The pickup was stopped after it made a u-turn to buy petrol at the Asia Intersection. The 59 year old driver, Plaeng Khongna and 47 year old passenger Suwit Mongkol Supha were arrested. Both are residents of Mukdahan’s Muang district.

Police found 572 bars of compressed marijuana bars wrapped in 13 parcels. Each bar weighed around one kilogram.

The suspects denied any knowledge of the drug, claiming they were hired by two Lao men to drive ‘winter melons’ and ‘sponge gourds’ from Mukdahan in Thailand’s north-east to Hat Yai district in Songkhla. They said the two Lao men loaded the goods for them to drive and they were promised 45,000 baht on arrival.

Police also arrested the couple driving the ‘warning’ car a kilometre from the petrol station where the pickup was stopped.

The couple declined to speak to police after the arrest, but records of phone calls from their mobile phones showed they had made calls to the phones of the two suspects in the pickup.

SOURCE: The Nation

Four arrested as police intercept 572 kilograms of marijuana heading south | News by The Thaiger

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Krabi

Weather warning for Thailand’s southern provinces

The Thaiger

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Weather warning for Thailand’s southern provinces | The Thaiger

Thailand’s wet-season is forecast to be ‘wet’ in the south for the next few days. The Thai Meteorological Department has issued its 3rd consecutive weather warning in the past 24 hours to alert residents of heavy rain in the Southern provinces, strong winds and high seas.

In the latest warning issued this morning at 6am, the TMD reported that, until June 27, the strong southwest monsoon will prevail over the Andaman Sea, the South and the Gulf of Thailand.

“Isolated heavy to very heavy rain is likely in the East and South. People in the South should beware of the severe conditions that may cause flash floods.”

“Strong winds and 2-3 metre waves are likely in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. All ships should proceed with caution and small boats should remain ashore until June 29.”

The affected areas listed in the warning are:

June 24 and 25

Nakhon Nayok, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat in the east and Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat in the east coast to face isolated heavy rain, and Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun in the west coast to face isolated heavy to very heavy rain.

June 26 and 27…

Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat in the east, Chumphon, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat in the east coast, and Ranong, Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun in the west coast will be covered with isolated heavy rain.

Bangkok will be cloudy with scattered thundershowers and isolated heavy rain during the forecast period. Minimum temperature 28°C. Maximum temperature 39°C.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

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