Traders told to face down attack threat

Chamber says security boost cheers business

Business activities in the far South are expected to proceed as normal today after security agencies assured traders of their safety and asked residents not to believe rumours about a pending attack.

Narathiwat Chamber of Commerce chairman Kukiat Burapapong said business operators should have more confidence about running their business today. More than half the local shops kept their doors closed last Friday.

Leaflets were distributed in several areas in the South last week, ordering businesses to stop operating on Fridays, when Muslims hold weekly prayers.

Security agencies have told residents not to be intimidated by flyers warning them off Friday trading, while religious leaders confirmed that working on Fridays is not against Islamic teaching.

"We feel more confident after army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said he would boost safety by sending officers to the area," Mr Kukiat said.

He said the chamber also called on the government to quickly end rumours of insurgency attacks on Fridays.

The chairman welcomed moves to set up a safety zone and employ bomb detection devices. Surveillance cameras should also be installed, he said.

Former Pattani Chamber of Commerce chief Sirichai Piticharoen, whose showroom was set ablaze in February, damaging 10 cars, said some small operators may close their shops today, but the larger ones will still run their business as normal.

Songkhla governor Grisada Boonrach said the province has stepped up security to boost the public's confidence. Joint forces of police, soldiers, kamnan, village headmen and their deputies will monitor markets, arrange the safety zone and check on vehicles, the governor said. He also urged residents in Songkhla's four districts not to believe rumours they will be harmed if they open for business today.

Chula Ratchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpol said Islamic teachings do not prohibit working on Friday.

His comment was made in a letter sent to Pol Col Tawee Sodsong, director of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre.

"Threatening people to stop working on a Friday is a violation of their rights," the letter says. "The move is contrary to Allah's teachings."

Meanwhile, in Yala, Pol Lt Ingsaree Doroning, a 53-year-old retired officer of Raman police station, was shot dead while riding his motorcycle in Poh Mang village, tambon Kayu Bokor of Raman district. Suding Hama, 62, a former headman of Moo 3 in tambon Jakwae of Raman district, was shot and seriously wounded on a road in Moo 3 in the same tambon.

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