Peace talks need small team, Yutthasak says

Expanded dialogue, more meetings urged

A smaller team of negotiators is needed to conduct informal talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) in between the formal meetings, says an adviser to the prime minister.

Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa said yesterday the next round of peace talks between the government and the BRN is more than a month away.

Infrequent meetings will not result in progress, he said. Insurgents have continued to carry out attacks despite the peace talks, he said.

The government must put pressure on the BRN to fulfil its promise to stamp out the attacks, Gen Yutthasak added.

Government officials at the second round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur late last month gave the BRN one month to prove it represented the southern insurgency groups. The day before the talks, the group issued a five-point list of demands, which the government has since rejected.

Gen Yutthasak said the government will have to bring other groups into the peace dialogue if the BRN proves itself incapable of halting the violence. They could include the Permas group of southern border province students and Permuda, a southern youth group based in Pattani, he said.

He was speaking before leaving for a visit to the deep South yesterday. While there, he met the Narathiwat Special Task Force and visited a Buddhist community at Wat Prachum Chon Thara in Narathiwat's Sungai Padi district.

The community has previously vented its growing dissatisfaction with the southern situation. They complained after a gun attack on a grocery shop in Pattani's Muang district in which six people, including a three-year-old child, were killed.

Meanwhile, in Songkhla, a pickup truck was set ablaze in Ban Khlong Khut in Thepha district early yesterday.

The bed of the vehicle was slightly damaged where a piece of cloth soaked in oil was found, Pol Col Athip Saengwanloi, chief of Thepha district police station said.

Police were alerted to the incident at 7.45am. They ruled out a connection with the southern unrest.

Pol Col Athip said the attack caused about 10,000 baht worth of damage to the truck.

Another arson attack was reported about 300 metres away from the first one. The second attack was on a motorcycle that was almost completely destroyed by the fire.

The motorcycle attack was reported on a stretch of road that runs alongside the railway. The motorcycle was registered in Songkhla.

Pol Col Wichian Yantarat, chief of Huay Pling police station, which investigated the attacks, said they were probably connected because they occurred only a short distance from one another.

He said investigators believed the attackers were looking to deceive police into thinking the attacks were related to the southern unrest, when they probably stemmed from a personal conflict.

Police were tracking the owner of the burnt motorcycle.

Meanwhile, Siwaga Niseng, 46, a member of Si Sa Khon Tambon Administration Organisation, was shot dead at 4.40pm yesterday in Si Sa Khon district of Narathiwat while he was riding a motorcycle. His pillion rider, Yale Ale, 35, suffered serious injuries.

Police suspect southern insurgents are to blame.

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Writer: Wassana Nanuam
Position: Reporter