Relatives of slain men get payouts
Authorities have paid 500,000 baht each in compensation to families of three victims who were shot dead "by mistake" during a clash with armed insurgents in Narathiwat last Monday.
According to secretary-general of the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC), Rear Adm Somkiat Pholprayoon, the compensation is "only the beginning" as officials are considering further assistance which is not regulated by state laws.
"We met [the victims'] relatives to give them moral support," he said. "We also want to know their living conditions, so we can give more help."
Haphisee Mada-o, 24; Budeeman Malee, 26; and Manasee Sama-ae, 27 -- all from Rangae district -- were shot by soldiers attached to a paramilitary light infantry force on Tawae mountain on Dec 16. Chief of the 45th Ranger Regiment, Thiphat Aimphan, admitted during the visit that it was "the soldiers' mistake" and said the officers involved in the shooting have turned themselves in to authorities.
Previously, Fourth Army Region commander Pornsak Poonsawat said he suspected the soldiers might have disobeyed an order not to search the insurgents' hideout in the area without prior authorisation from their superiors, which led to the armed clash on the border of Rangae and Cho Airong districts.
The mountain is considered as a "no-go" zone -- but villagers living near the foot of the mountain disagree with authorities. "We need to raise trees on Tawee mountain to live," one villager said.
Meanwhile, police have arrested a man accused of gunning down a villager in Yala in 2015.
Atsaman Hengtake was detained after a raid in Pattani. The 33-year-old allegedly colluded with two other suspects to ambush Sabawi Salae, while he was riding a motorcycle in Muang district, police said.