Cur­few mulled for deep South

Isoc calls on lo­cals not to be alarmed

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - MONGKOL BANGPRAPA WASSANA NANUAM

Se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties have been given the green light to con­sider im­pos­ing a cur­few in eight dis­tricts of four south­ern­most prov­inces for one year, but they say the move has noth­ing to do with this week’s deadly at­tack in Yala.

The an­nounce­ment in the Royal Gazette, which was pub­lished on Thurs­day and re­leased yes­ter­day, al­lows the di­rec­tor of the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Op­er­a­tions Com­mand (Isoc) — Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha — to con­sider a cur­few in Mae Laen dis­trict of Pat­tani; Chana, Saba Yoi, Thepha and Na Thawi in Songkhla; Be­tong dis­trict of Yala, and Sun­gai Kolok and Sukhirin dis­tricts of Narathi­wat. It would take ef­fect from Dec 1 this year to Nov 30 next year.

The mea­sure is in­tended to “pre­vent, con­tain, and man­age the sit­u­a­tion in ar­eas where there are threats to na­tional se­cu­rity in an or­derly and ef­fec­tive man­ner”, the an­nounce­ment said.

It did not men­tion any spe­cific cause for the au­tho­ri­sa­tion of ex­panded pow­ers, but it came just days af­ter an at­tack at a se­cu­rity check­point in Yala that re­sulted in the deaths of 15 peo­ple.

Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaen­g, an Isoc spokesman, was quick to point out that a night-time ban would not be im­posed, as the an­nounce­ment only au­tho­rises the agency to do so.

Col Pramote Phrom-in, a spokesman for the Isoc Re­gion 4 For­ward Com­mand, said peo­ple should not get into a panic over the news.

Nei­ther of­fi­cer could clar­ify why the ar­eas cho­sen were se­lected for a pos­si­ble cur­few.

The at­tack in Muang dis­trict of Yala on Tues­day night rep­re­sented the worst loss of life in the re­cent his­tory of the trou­bled re­gion, where more than 7,000 peo­ple have died since the in­sur­gency was re­vived in 2004.

But De­fence Min­istry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantra­vanich said the an­nounce­ment was not re­lated to the massacre, not­ing that Muang dis­trict

‘‘ The Sec­tion 18 reg­u­la­tion only au­tho­rises [the Isoc] to an­nounce a cur­few. COL PRAMOTE PHROM-IN

SPOKESMAN FOR ISOC RE­GION 4 FOR­WARD COM­MAND

of Yala was not in­cluded.

Col Pramote played down me­dia re­ports about a blan­ket cur­few.

“The an­nounced Sec­tion 18 reg­u­la­tion only au­tho­rises [the Isoc] to an­nounce a cur­few. Isoc has yet to de­cide on how it may im­ple­ment that au­thor­ity,” he said.

De­fence Min­istry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantra­vanich me­dia that the reg­u­la­tion wasn’t yet a cur­few.

More­over, he said, the reg­u­la­tion had noth­ing to do with Tues­day night’s bru­tal at­tack on a se­cu­rity check­point in Yala’s Muang dis­trict, which killed 15 peo­ple — mostly vil­lage de­fence vol­un­teers — and in­jured five oth­ers.

Ear­lier in the day, Prime Min­is­ter Prayut said that if a cur­few was needed, it would be in­voked for as a short time as pos­si­ble and only to fa­cil­i­tate the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The prime min­is­ter said the groups be­hind the at­tack had been iden­ti­fied.

The premier, how­ever, re­fused to go into de­tail about the iden­tity of the groups, say­ing au­thor­i­ties re­quire more time to col­lect ev­i­dence.

The at­tack­ers’ aim was to stir up un­rest and press se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties to use force against them, but au­thor­i­ties must con­tinue tack­ling such vi­o­lence with a peace­ful ap­proach, law en­force­ment, devel­op­ment projects and pro­mo­tion of pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the peace-keep­ing mis­sion, he said.

“If we in­ter­pret the sit­u­a­tion in­cor­rectly and choose the wrong ap­proach to deal with it, the vi­o­lence will flare up even more,” he said.

Re­gard­ing the govern­ment’s peace talks with the south­ern in­sur­gent groups, which are be­ing fa­cil­i­tated by the Malaysian govern­ment, Gen Prayut said he had em­pha­sised that he also wants di­a­logue with the groups ac­tively in­volved in the south­ern vi­o­lence.

The peace talks are be­ing con­ducted on many lev­els and in­volve var­i­ous par­ties in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials and former and cur­rent lead­ers of the in­sur­gent groups, he said.

The mil­i­tary yes­ter­day ar­rested one sus­pect in con­nec­tion with Tues­day’s at­tack.

The sus­pect, whose name was with­held, was wear­ing a black mil­i­tary-style out­fit when he was ap­pre­hended in Than To dis­trict of Yala. He is a na­tive of tam­bon Pak Lor in Khok Pho dis­trict of Pat­tani, ac­cord­ing to Col Pramote.

The sus­pect has al­ready been trans­ported to the Ingkayut­bori­han mil­i­tary camp in Pat­tani, he said.

Bul­lets con­fis­cated from the sus­pect were sim­i­lar to those used by in­sur­gents in pre­vi­ous cases, au­thor­i­ties said.

They in­cluded a gold shop rob­bery in Na Thawi dis­trict in Songkhla prov­ince in Au­gust, an at­tack on an Is­lamic Bank of Thai­land ATM at Fa­toni Uni­ver­sity in Pat­tani, also in Au­gust, and the fa­tal shoot­ing at a de­fence vol­un­teer check­point in tam­bon Paka­ha­rang in Muang dis­trict of Pat­tani in July.

Col Pramote said that au­thor­i­ties would also in­ves­ti­gate whether the sus­pect is linked to those pre­vi­ous at­tacks.

Mean­while, 4th Army Re­gion com­man­der Lt Gen Phon­sak Poon­sawat told re­porters that the at­tack­ers be­longed to a group with at least 20 mem­bers.

“They have re­peat­edly launched at­tacks in the restive south­ern prov­inces,” he said. “The army is launch­ing a man­hunt and will use spe­cial laws to bring them to jus­tice. They must be caught, oth­er­wise they will con­tinue their at­tacks.”

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