Govt mulls olive branch for rebels

Govt mulls olive branch for rebels

Training on cards for suspects in far South

Maj Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, author of the Rajabhakti Park project and now heading a committee of retired generals to advise on the restive Deep South. (File photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)
Maj Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, author of the Rajabhakti Park project and now heading a committee of retired generals to advise on the restive Deep South. (File photo by Krit Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

Certain types of suspects accused of violating the security law in connection with the southern unrest may be permitted to undergo a six-month occupational training programme instead of facing prosecution, according to a government source.

The steering committee overseeing policy and strategies for resolving the unrest in the southernmost provinces was expected to discuss the proposal Wednesday, said the source.

Some suspects in security cases may be allowed under Section 21 of the 2008 Internal Security Act to undergo occupational training provided by the state instead of being prosecuted for their offences, said the source.

The suspects are regarded as "people changing their mind and surrendering to authorities", or "people misguided into breaking the law", said the source.

Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr, in his capacity as chairman of the panel, said Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has stressed the importance of integrating the work of all state agencies handling the southern unrest.

Gen Udomdej has highlighted projects requiring concerted efforts to restore peace in the far South. One of them is called "Bringing back misguided people into society", which he said needs cooperation from several agencies.

There are currently about 4,000 "misguided" people in the far South, according to Gen Udomdej.

As for the violence, he said the government was focusing on preventing attacks in city areas and along main roads, especially big attacks which caused substantial damage and loss of life.

Meanwhile, Pattani police investigators on Wednesday continued their hunt for two suspected attackers caught on a security camera at the time of a deadly bomb attack at a noodle shop in Pattani's Muang district on Monday night.

The blast, which occurred about 7pm in the municipality's night market, killed a 60-year-old woman and wounded 21 others, two of them seriously.

Police had imposed more stringent security patrols and checks as part of the hunt for the suspects believed to be behind the attack.

They were also asking for cooperation from municipality officials to monitor cars parked along roads to make it easier for security officials to conduct surveillance operations around the city.

Among the injured in Monday's attack was a Mathayom 6 student at the Prince of Songkla Demonstration School who lost a leg and an eye, as well as a seven-year-old boy who had to undergo life-saving surgery.

The bomb blast took place the day before the 12th anniversary of the deadly Tak Bai tragedy in which 85 Muslim men suffocated after being arrested and packed on top of each other into lorries by army and paramilitary forces who had been sent to Narathiwat province's Tak Bai district to break up an anti-government protest.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Monday's attack had been carried out by insurgents wanting to put on a show of strength amid the ongoing southern peace talks.

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