Security chiefs reject proposed curfew

Security agency chiefs agreed on Friday there was no need impose a curfew in areas of the far South after strong opposition to the proposal from local residents, academics and many southern security officials.

National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradon Pattanathabutr said after a key meeting of security agencies responsible for the troubled South that they unanimously agreed that a curfew was not necessary. They had confidence in the people in charge of the fight against the insurgency.

The situation in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces was improving as more local people were cooperating with the government and intelligence gathering had improved.

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung proposed the curfew last week after teachers and security forces were repeatedly and lethally  targetted by insurgents. He said it would not be a blanket curfew, just selective.

The proposal immediately drew objections from rights groups, southern communities,and the opposition Democrat Party.

Mr Chalerm appeared to step back from his position before entering the meeting at Government House on Friday, saying the opinions of local communities and officials on the ground in the South would have to be taken into consideration.

Lt Gen Paradon said the deputy prime minister agreed to the outcome of the meeting and Mr Chalerm stressed the need for authorities to closely monitor developments in the three provinces.

The meeting also rejected another proposal by Mr Chalerm, to supply more weapons to village chiefs and kamnan so they could better protect their communities, agreeing that the weapons already supplied to them by the government were sufficient.

Top security agencies represented at Friday's meeting included the NSC, the National Intelligence Agency, the armed forces and the Interior Ministry.

The no-curfew decision came in the wake of a major setback for the southern insurgency. Early Wednesday 16  well armed militants were killed by marines when a force now estimated at 50-strong tried to storm their camp in Bacho district of Narathiwat.

Soldiers, police and defence volunteers are still searching for the rest, who fled the fighting.

Security sources said six of the fleeing attackers could well be leading members of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil. Some could be staying with sympathisers in Bacho and Rueso districts of Narathiwat or Mai Kaen district in Pattani. Many others were believed to have fled to mountainous forested areas.

Four men suspected of being part of the attacking force, including a wounded man, have been detained and are being held for interrogation.

Related search: curfew, southern violence, insurgency, chalerm, nsc