Four soldiers hurt in Narathiwat attack

NARATHIWAT - Four soldiers were seriously wounded in a gun attack that was followed by an explosion targeting their colleagues who were coming to rescue them in Si Sakhon district late on Thursday afternoon.

The attack occurred as six soldiers in a security team from Narathiwat Task Force 37, assigned to escort teachers from school to their homes, were travelling in a military jeep on the Moo 1 village road in tambon Si Sakhon. They were leading a convoy of teachers driving a pickup truck, a car and a motorcycle.

Gunmen hiding in a roadside rubber plantation fired almost 30 shots at the soldiers’ vehicle with M16 and AK-47 assault rifles. The bullets hit the driver, Cpl Maechin Prachakoon, and three others -- Cpl Krongsub Uppachai, Pvt Taweechai Pewthong and Pvt Taewin Uppapakdee – in the arms and legs. All of the wounded are in a critical condition.

The teachers raced away from the scene, Pol Maj Gen Suchart Thirasawat, deputy chief of the Southern Border Police Operations Centre, said. 

The unit’s leader, Sgt Maj 3rd Class Ekkawin Densang, who sat beside Cpl Maechin and was unhurt, radioed his base to ask for backup.

A six-member rapid response team rushed to the scene in a Humvee. However, another group of suspected militants hiding in a roadside forest detonated a bomb targeting their vehicle, which was about 300 metres from the teacher escort unit, and a five-minute gunfight ensued.The bomb caused no injuries. Thirty-two spent M16 and AK-47 cartridges were collected from the spot where the assailants were hiding.    

Thursday’s attack came on the same day as Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul led 15 delegates from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to a meeting with the chairman of the Pattani Islamic Committee, Dueramae Mamingli, and local religious leaders while on a visit to observe the current situation and the progress in the government's efforts to resolve the southern conflict.

Photos by Waedao Harai

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Writer: Waedao Harai