NARATHIWAT : A campaign was underway in downtown Narathiwat yesterday to spur Friday retail trade subdued by threats of insurgent attacks.
In central Narathiwat Wednesday, deputy provincial governor Samart Waradisai presided over the launch of a walking parade around the city encouraging traders to conduct their business as usual on Fridays.
The participants were mostly local leaders, vendors and housewives. They made their way through the city centre in Muang district and called on both Muslim and Buddhist vendors to resume regular trading.
The campaign message was also sent through state outreach channels to traders in 12 other districts.
Narathiwat is the first insurgent-infiltrated province in the far South to mount such a campaign since insurgent threats on the past two Fridays turned many normally bustling trade centres in the region into ghost towns.
Religious leaders deplored the threats to scare off traders and insisted Fridays are not compulsory off-days for Muslims, as claimed by the insurgents.
Trade volumes in some areas were down by more than 60% last Friday, dealing a further blow to the flagging trade reported the previous Friday when the threat of violence was passed through word of mouth.
Experts said economic disruption was one of the key goals of the separatist insurgency.
The Narathiwat provincial authorities are confident the campaign will revitalise trade tomorrow.
Meanwhile, leaflets were left outside shops and houses in parts of Tak Bai and Sungai Kolok districts alleging the military was behind the Friday no-work threat to smear a separatist group.
The leaflets, issued by a group calling itself the Devotees for the Malayu Fatani, said the military invented the threat so people will stop supporting the group.
The group denied it engineered the scare tactic. The military, according to the leaflets, was out to tighten control of local communities.
Also in Sungai Kolok district yesterday, a bullet wrapped in a paper ball was thrown into a shop selling construction materials.
Police said three people on a motorcycle threw the paper ball with the bullet inside it into the Panich Thai shop owned by Sumalee Pongthanes.
The shop has remained open for business as usual on Friday for the past two weeks.
Ms Sumalee thought she might close her shop tomorrow as she fears for her safety, police said.
In Yaha district of Yala, nine para-military rangers were wounded, one of them seriously, when a bomb exploded as they were returning to their base from a patrol yesterday.
Police said the attack occurred about 2pm near a village in tambon Baro on the Yaha-Patae Road.
The rangers were returning to their base at Ban Yasub in tambon Patae on a pickup truck when a bomb planted in a motorcycle by the side of the road was detonated remotely with a mobile phone.
All nine members of the Ranger Company 4714 patrol were wounded, one of them, Mai Amatmontri, seriously.
Another bomb was placed about 1km from the spot, targeting soldiers and police rushing to help the rangers.
The bomb was detonated, but there were no reported casualties caused by the explosion.
About the author
- Writer: Waedao Harai