Chalerm finally goes to the South
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung quietly flew to Pattani province in an air force aircraft on Thursday, making his first and long-delayed trip to the insurgency hit deep South after heavy criticism.
- Published: 11/04/2013 at 05:34 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
His visit followed a violent Wednesday night in Pattani, when militants killed and harrassed soldiers, bombed fishing boats and set dozens of nuisance fires throughout the province.
Two soldiers were killed and six others injured by a bomb explosion.
Two fishing boats were bombed, and one of them sank, defence volunteer posts were attacked and fires set at 35 spots in eight districts of the province.
Mr Chalerm, who has been criticised by the opposition and commentators for never having visited the far South, despite having been assigned to head a centre for the implementation of policies for tackling problems in the region, was accompanied on his trip by Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, the national police chief.
The plane with Mr Chalerm and his entourage departed from Don Mueang at about noon and arrived in Pattani at about 1.30pm.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, right, visits the soldiers in the southern border province of Pattani on Thursday. (Photo by Parez Lohasan)
He was scheduled to visit Wat Suwannakorn in tambon Bo Thong in Nong Chik district to pay respects to the bodies of Lt Roengrit Phothisa and Chief Warrant Officer Sanchai Sophawang, who were killed by a bomb at the Halal food centre at Ban Thasu in tambon Nam Bo in Panare district.
Mr Chalerm was then to proceed to Sirindhorn camp in Pattani province for a situation briefing, before visiting the Southern Police Operations Centre in Yala.
He was due to stay overnight at an undisclosed location, according to reports.
National Security Council (NSC) secretary general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said on Thursday the next round of peace talks with representatives of separatist groups will be held as scheduled on April 29 in Malaysia.
Lt Gen Paradorn said he had received confirmation from Malaysian authorities, who are facilitating the talks, that the date set for the next round would remain unchanged. It would not be affected by the coming general election.
Malaysians go to the polls to elect their next government on May 5.
The violence has shown no sign of declining in the far South since the talks began, with frequent bombings and killings.
Lt Gen Paradorn said Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the national army chief, had asked security forces to be more vigilant during his visit to the southern border region on Wednesday.
"It is noticeable that the militants' targets for attacks have lately been government officials. So they have been warned to be more careful," the NSC chief said.
Gen Prayuth said he had briefed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the attacks in Pattani.
In Narathiwat's Sungai Padi district, a 60-strong team of military and police raided a rented house on Thursday afternoon, arrested a suspected insurgent, and seized three firearms - an Uzi-type submachine pistol, a 9mm pistol and a .38 revolver – and ammunition.
The apprehended suspect was later identified as Marawfit Mama, 25.
Also seized from him were 13 mobile phones, a pair of handcuffs, drug paraphernalia and 3,100 baht in cash.
Po Col Wuthipong Yenjit, chief of Sungai Padi district police, said the suspect is from Narathiwat. He did not cooperate with the police when they initially questioned him.
Police were running background checks on Mr Marawfit and the seized firearms. He was taken to Sungai Padi police station under martial law provisions for further questioning.
About the author
- Writer: Online Reporters
- Position: Online Reporters