Six deaths in far South rattle officials

Police and army chiefs will sit down and discuss better ways to cope with the insurgency in the far South following the murder of six more people, including two teachers and an 11-month-old girl, on Tuesday.

  • Published: 11/12/2012 at 04:51 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

National police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew said he would meet with army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha on Thursday and discuss way to combat the resurging violence.

The slaying of six people in a five-hour time span in one day came only two days before Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's planned trip to the region.

The most horrifying scene was a teashop in Rangae district, Narathiwat.

A man carries the body of his 11-month-old daughter to her funeral after she was shot dead in an attack on a teashop by suspected separatist militants in Narathiwat on Tuesday. (AFP Photo)

Gunmen who arrived in a pick-up truck sprayed bullets from AK47 and M16 rifles at the shop and its customers on on Tuesday mprnng, killing four people and injuring another four, Pol Col Boonsak Numad of the Rangae district police said. The dead included an 11-month-old girl.

There were 15 people at the shop at the time of the attack, about 7.26am. The surviving wounded included a 10-month-old boy.

Five hours later, shortly after mid-day, at least five men attacked Ban Ba-ngo School in Mayo district, Pattani. Two were wearing police uniforms. They shot dead Tiyarat Chuaykaew, the school director, and Somsak Kwanma, a teacher, before stealing a pickup truck belonging to a teacher and departing in it, Mayo district police said.

They also fired rifle shots at seven teachers who were having lunch in the school canteen, police said.

The murder of the teachers  came on the same day that at all 378 state schools in Narathiwat reopened after striking teachers accepted an assurance from security authorities they would better protect the lives of teachers in the province.

The attack raised the number of teachers murdered in the four southernmost provinces to 157 since the violence erupted in January 2004.

A spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) region 4, Col Pramote Prom-in, condemned the attack on the tea shop as a brutal violation of human rights. Isoc would go after the killers and bring them to justice, he said.

Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana urged security authorities to urgently protect school compounds as well as providing protection for teachers travelling to and from work.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), which monitors situations in the restive region, criticised the government for lack of effective measures to win the fight against the insurgents.

Militants were "outpacing'' the government's efforts to restore peace in the region, the ICG said in its latest report released on Tuesday.

"A series of insurgent attacks in 2012 thrust the conflict into national consciousness, and challenged officials' assurances that they are on the right track,'' Matthew Wheeler, ICG's Southeast Asia analyst said in the report. "But this renewed attention has not yet prompted fresh thinking or new will to tackle the problem.''

The Brussels-based non-governmental organisation urged Thailand to rethink its strategy of deploying soldiers to crack down on insurgents. It also called for the lifting of the emergency decree and the end of immunity of security forces.

Jim Della-Giacoma, ICG's Southeast Asia Project Director, said the present situation was challenging the government's ability to curb violence. "Without more creative thinking and deft action, Bangkok risks losing the initiative,'' he said.

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