Father: Militant son was indoctrinated
Family shocked by hostage drama in deep South
The father of a militant suspect shot dead by authorities during Wednesday's vehicle robberies in the deep South believes his son was indoctrinated and misled into committing the crime in which a hostage was also killed.
Maruding Arwae said his son -- Nur-arsan Arwae, a 27-year-old resident of Pattani's Muang district -- had been a law-abiding citizen who paid his way through college.
"I'm really sorry for what happened," said Mr Maruding.
He said he never thought his son would resort to violence, adding that Nur-arsan was always a well-behaved and devout Muslim who pushed himself through his studies by working part time to earn money to finance his education.
After graduating from Pathom Suksa 6 (Grade 6), Nur-arsan continued his education at the Triam Suksa School where he finished an Islamic studies programme as well as completed his Mathayom 6 (Grade 12).
He went on to pursue higher education in religion before enrolling in a community college from where he earned his diploma and later won a place in a special bachelor's degree programme at the Princess of Naradhiwas University.
Following his university graduation, he worked as an accountant at the Adul Ma-aref School in Pattani and also as a volunteer teacher at the Triam Suksa School. He also taught at a Tadika school at a mosque near his house.
Every Friday, Nur-arsan would lead the prayers at the mosque and his recitation would captivate worshippers, according to his father.
"He was well loved by the people in the community," Mr Maruding said, adding that Nur-arsan was good-natured with a gentle disposition.
"We never had the slightest idea he would choose the path [of violence]," he said.
Together with his friends, Nur-arsan went into a business farming fish which they sold to a local wholesaler.
Mr Maruding said his son always wore Muslim attire and never jeans, which contradicts the authorities' discovery of the body of Nur-arsan donning black jeans over a pair of sport pants after the clash with security forces on Wednesday.
Mr Maruding said his son also had a cap on at the time of his death, something he would normally never wear.
Nur-arsan was widely respected in the community and he would refuse a choice of clothing considered un-Islamic, the father added.
Mr Maruding said the clothes on his son's body strongly convinced him his son might have been brainwashed into joining the robbery.
"We can't bring ourselves to accept that he would commit the crime on his own without anyone misguiding him," he said.
In Nur-arsan's room at his home, Mr Maruding said he found his son had packed his belongings in a bag, as though he was setting off on a long trip. The items, including a passbook with 30,000 baht in his account, were seized by the authorities.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nur-arsan left home to deliver fish to the wholesaler. He returned an hour later and went out again. His family was informed hours later he had been killed in a clash with authorities.
The spate of robberies started in Pattani where a group of suspected militants, with Nur-asan allegedly among them, took a pickup truck from a couple in Pattani's Yarang district about 4.30am on Wednesday.
The snatched truck was then used by the suspects dressed in outfits similar to those of security forces to travel to a used car shop called Wang To Car Centre in Na Thawi district of Songkhla, where they made off with six trucks and abducted four people including the shop owner. One hostage was killed by the insurgents while the others survived.
Nur-arsan was killed during an exchange of fire with authorities after he refused to stop one of the stolen cars at a security checkpoint in Pattani's Nong Chik district.
One of the stolen vehicles was fitted with a bomb which blew up on Wednesday night in Pattani's Nong Chik district. No one was injured.
Another one was dropped in front of a police flat at Mayo police station in Pattani about 3.50am on Thursday. The vehicle blew up shortly afterwards, damaging nearby buildings. Some officers who were approaching to inspect the vehicle were slightly injured.
Meanwhile, Provincial Police Region 9 in the far South has set up a team of 20 investigators to work on the vehicle robbery case.