Paradorn downplays truce violence

National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut Thursday downplayed concerns that violence in the far South was escalating despite the current ceasefire agreement.

PMjoins Muslims at Government House

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attends an event to mark the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast with Muslims at Government House. CHANAT KATANYU

Lt Gen Paradorn said the level of violence in the region during the first 15 days of Ramadan was not considered "severe" when compared with the same period in previous years.

He also rejected speculation that the government delegation was considering offering other insurgent groups a seat at the negotiating table.

"We will still give the BRN [Barisan Revolusi Nasional] time to talk other groups into curbing the violence," he said. "We believe they can honour the agreement."

The government's negotiators are coordinating with Malaysia, the facilitator of the peace talks, to investigate the string of attacks which have marred the Ramadan ceasefire, he said.

However, Prasit Meksuwan, chair of the Civil Society Council of Southernmost Thailand, was not convinced.

He said the violence subsided in the first few days of the holy month, but then flared after the fatal shooting of a suspected insurgent.

Mr Prasit was apparently referring to Masupien Mama, 35, who was killed in a gunfight with security forces as they tried to arrest him for alleged involvement in a bomb attack that wounded two soldiers on July 17.

He urged both sides to try to hold up their end of the ceasefire, and suggested that violence in Pattani was now in decline with the ceasefire in effect.

"They should understand they are in a peace process and should try to maintain that atmosphere," he said. "Authorities may try to be less strict with their law enforcement during the ceasefire."

The ceasefire will remain in place until Aug 18.

Meanwhile, authorities in Narathiwat yesterday tried to quell rumours that security forces were responsible for the deaths of two teachers following a blast in Chanae district on Wednesday.

They produced autopsy reports showing that Nayiha Yira, 38, and Nuryahan Awae, 44, were killed by shrapnel.

The move came after cloth banners were put up in three locations claiming that the Thai-Muslim teachers were shot dead by police officers.

The teachers were travelling with another person in a car escorted by a seven-member police patrol _ four officers on two motorcycles and three in a patrol car _ when the bomb went off.

Chaos erupted following the explosion, said Pol Lt Col Chalerm Yingkhong, deputy chief of Chanae police station.

Police officers fired shots but none of them hit the teachers, he said.

Governor Apinant Suethananuwong and Central Institute of Forensic Science director Anek Yomchinda yesterday led a group of officials to visit local residents to provide clarity on the incident.

Police said militants were likely to blame for the blast.

The attackers may have been led by Paming Jehtae, who was implicated in a bomb attack on a police flat in Si Sakhon district in 2011, police said.

Eighteen schools in Chanae district were closed yesterday and today.

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