Peace talks fail to halt bomb attacks

2 die, Democrats query South peace move

Two military rangers were killed and 11 others, including rangers and civilians, were wounded in a motorcycle bomb in Yala Saturday in the second day of violence since a deal to negotiate a peace settlement was signed.

Yasri Khan

The attack follows further violence on Friday in the far South after National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabutr signed an agreement with Hassan Taib, identified as the chief of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) liaison office in Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. Friday's bomb attack was carried out in Narathiwat.

Police and bomb disposal officers Saturday rushed to Lekhakul Road near Srimuang park in Yala's Muang district after the blast at about 2.25 pm.

One ranger was killed on the spot and seven others were wounded, one seriously. Four civilians were also injured.

The seriously-wounded ranger was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

A military vehicle was damaged at the scene. A badly-damaged motorcycle believed to have carried the bomb was found nearby.

The area was littered with metal debris and bits from electronic devices.

Police believed a home-made bomb, weighing at least 10kg, might have been planted in the motorcycle.

According to police, the motorcycle bomb went off when the military vehicle carrying rangers arrived at the scene.

The attack was believed to be the work of Roki Dolae, a leading insurgent who is still active in Yala.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut said Saturday there might an ulterior motive behind the peace talks agreement with the BRN.

Mr Chavanond said it was noted that Ustaz Hassan Taib, with whom the peace talks deal was signed, could have been among the people with whom former army chief Chettha Thanajaro was reported to have negotiated a ceasefire with five years ago.

In 2008, Gen Chettha, a former defence minister, was criticised after he announced a joint ceasefire with a group called Thailand United Southern Underground, which claimed to represent 11 separatist groups in the region.

If Mr Taib was there, it could mean the latest peace effort might be a sham as in 2008, Mr Chavanond said.

Yasri Khan, son of Samsudine Khan, deputy chairman of Pulo who lives in Sweden, said any attempt to clinch a ceasefire would not materialise as long as the government did not solve the root problems which allow the insurgency to fester.

The senior militant figures who signed the pact cannot tell the insurgent rank and file to lay down their weapons if the local population continues to be mistreated, he said in an exclusive interview with Post Today.

"How much can we [the citizens of Pattani and the militant fighters] trust the Thai authorities when they have not treated us with dignity?" he said, referring to the government-sponsored insurgent defection programme in the past.

He said the programme had failed because the government was not sincere in solving the basic problems affecting local people.

Locals expected the state to genuinely embrace the differences in culture, language and the rights of people in the far South to determine their own future.

Talk of self-rule and a special administration were only a process, not the ultimate goal.

Mr Yasri said it might take at least 20 years to assess the government's sincerity in forging southern peace.

The militants were afraid that if and when a ceasefire is achieved, the government might not be committed to recognising and tackling the fundamental problems of citizens in the deep South.

Mr Yasri said the government's recent peace efforts with the BRN marked the beginning of an attempt to end the violence.

In Narathiwat, police have pieced together clues about the insurgents involved in a motorcycle bomb attack near a municipal market in Muang district on Friday. The blast injured six people, including rangers and local residents.

Pol Col Sathanfa Wamasing, Narathiwat police chief, has obtained a key piece of evidence from a car bomb in front of a minimart opposite Narathiwat police office on Friday afternoon. He declined to say what the evidence was.

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