Give peace a chance, say both sides

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Saturday a reduction in violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan was not a formal agreement, only a pledge by Thai authorities and representatives of the insurgency to bring peace to the far South.

  • Published: 16/06/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

KEY FIGURE: Security officials question Sagariya Tohtayong, an alleged key member of the RKK separatist group who was arrested in Pattani province Saturday.

The Thai negotiating team, led by National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut, and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the group representing insurgents, agreed during the third round of peace talks on Thursday to seek a reduction in violence during Ramadan, which will begin on July 9 or 10 in Thailand, and last for 30 days..

Both sides will draft operational plans to present to Malaysia, which is facilitating the talks.

Ms Yingluck said curbing violence during Ramadan was not a formal agreement but just a "proposal" by each side to show their mutual intention to bring peace to the region.

The prime minister said she could not tell at this stage if the southern situation has improved after three rounds of talks between the NSC and the BRN.

"This is just the beginning. There is much more work that needs to be done. We all wish to see peace in the region, but the talks will take time," she said.

Ms Yingluck refused to comment on the BRN's initial five demands, saying only that any moves must be in accordance with Thai law.

The BRN issued the five demands via a YouTube video posted in April. They are: Accept Malaysia as mediator of the talks; the unconditional release of prisoners and the revocation of arrest warrants for suspects in security cases; the recognition of the BRN as the Pattani liberation movement; the participation of other Asean members in the talks; and for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other non-government organisations to witness the discussions.

Democrat deputy leader Thaworn Senneam yesterday warned the government to react carefully to the BRN's demands, saying accepting any of them or any other conditions could put the government at a disadvantage.

Mr Thaworn said he could not see any guarantee that violence would be curbed during Ramadan.

Meanwhile, a militant was killed in a clash with a joint police and military force in Pattani's Muang district early yesterday morning, police said.

The security force raided a house in Moo 3, tambon Talubo after receiving a tip that armed men were hiding there.

On seeing the soldiers and police, the men opened fire on them. The two sides exchanged gunfire for about 15 minutes, after which the militants retreated, leaving behind one body.

The body was identified as that of Ameen Daleng, 31. Authorities also found a 9mm handgun beside his body.

Security forces cleared the area and arrested Sagariya Tohtayong, 31, who is allegedly a key member of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil separatist group wanted in connection with the killing of six people in a grocery shop in Pattani recently.

Pol Maj Gen Suchart Theerasawat, deputy commissioner of the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Centre, said both Ameen and Mr Sagariya were leading members of the RKK. Mr Sagariya has five outstanding arrest warrants, including one for the murder of a judge in Pattani in 2004.

Meanwhile, insurgents yesterday fired M79 grenades to a police booth at Ban Krue Se in Pattani's Muang district. The incident took place at 7.30pm. No injuries or casualties were reported.

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