More violence, peace talks face delay

Insurgents took another shot at the house of an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung early Tuesday, firing a third grenade at his Narithiwat home that missed and wounded a neighbour.

Suspected militants fire grenades at the home of Najmuddin Uma, an adviser on the deep South to Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung. (Photo by Waedao Harai)

The attack followed two explosions of grenades fired from M-79 launchers that hit his house Narathiwat's Rangae district early Monday, damaging the roof  and ceiling.

Police said Tuesday's grenade launched at the house owned by Najmuddin Uma missed it completely and instead landed on a nearby property, exploded and wounded a resident.

Early Monday two grenades were fired from an M-79 launcher,  hitting the house and damaging it but causing no casualties.

Mr Najmuddin and his family moved out of their home after the first attack on Monday.

Authorities speculated that both attacks were carried out by the same people. In the first attack, on Monday, witnesses saw two men approach on a motorcycle, and the man riding pillion fired both rounds.

In Narathiwat's Bacho district, a police patrol vehicle was slightly damaged by a roadside bomb explosion on Monday night, but there were no injuries.

National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said on Tuesday that the second round of peace talks scheduled for April 29 between Thai security officials and representatives of separatist groups in Kuala Lumpur will likely be postponed because of the coming general election in Malaysia.

The Malaysian parliament was dissolved by Prime Minister Najib Razak on April 3. The general election must be held by June 27. The date is expected to be announced this week. April 27 has been speculated.

"We've received a signal from Malaysia that the peace talks could be deferred, but this has nothing to do with the violent incidents in the deep South," Lt Gen Paradorn said.

The NSC, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) insurgency movement, and the Malaysian government would jointly decide if the talks should be postponed, he said.

Asked about the recent violence in the far South, he said it is the BRN's duty to talk with other insurgent groups to reduce the level of violence in the region.

"There'll be problems concerning the peace talks if the violence continues," said Lt Gen Paradorn.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

National army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said people should not say that attacks were becoming more frequent in the far South because the insurgents wanted greater leverage during negotiations.

"Thinking this way won't help the situation," Gen Prayuth said. 

"Why can't we see that there is no peace in the South because there are still things to be done by the different sides? We have to take timing, budgeting and overlapping issues into consideration."

He said militants were making daily attacks in the far South because they wanted to demonstrate their capabilities.

"We should not give importance to a particular insurgent group because this will boost their status and make it difficult for us to solve the problems," Gen Prayuth said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, who oversees security affairs, does not have to travel to the southernmost provinces because he is working at the policy level.

"There are different functions and one of them is policy making. He doesn't have to make frequent visits to the area, and he actually doesn't need to go there at all.

"I'm not taking Mr Chalerm's side because it is his right to make the decision whether to go to the South, and it is not about being afraid.

"Mr Chalerm has asked me to visit the far South with him during Songkran," the army chief said.

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