Limited curfews are being considered in the deep South following the recent murders of farmers in Yaring district of Pattani and four traders in Yala's Krong Pinang district.
The curfews were proposed yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, with the support of the police.
However, they were swiftly rejected by Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat who insisted they were not necessary.
Mr Chalerm said yesterday security agencies would consider the possibility of imposing curfews in high-risk areas at a meeting on Feb 15.
The authorities will study the attacks and find ways to improve security surveillance, he said.
On Feb 1, two visiting Sing Buri farmers were shot and killed and 10 others injured in a gun attack in Yaring district.
They came to teach local farmers how to revive abandoned rice fields.
On Tuesday, four visiting fruit traders from Rayong were murdered execution-style in a hut near Ban Krong Pinang market in tambon Krong Pinang of Yala.
The army said the southern militants were going after "soft targets" visiting the southernmost provinces.
Mr Chalerm has now proposed that limited curfews be introduced in vulnerable areas.
Local police are frustrated by human rights activists and critics who oppose curfews, he said.
Police have approached him about the possibility of imposing a curfew to help make their jobs easier.
Mr Chalerm said the government must take decisive action to stem the violence.
"We have to consider a curfew," he said. "Critics can't simply oppose everything.
"How can we solve the problem?
"Something has to be done. The southern unrest is getting difficult to handle."
Mr Chalerm said any curfews are likely to take effect at night.
ACM Sukumpol, however, insisted no curfew was necessary.
He also said there is no need for security agencies to review their approach to tackling the unrest, even during the coming Chinese New Year celebrations.
ACM Sukumpol said the problem lies with lax enforcement of security laws.
"Local people are free to move around. They want it that way and they have to be more careful," he said. "Areas under military surveillance are safe. Anyone who wants to enter the region [and needs security protection] should contact us and we will help."
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Writer: Patsara Jikkham & Wassana Nanuam