Army chief in Aceh to sign security cooperation pact

Army chief in Aceh to sign security cooperation pact

Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong (centre) and senior military officers mark the 110th anniversary of the 1st Army Region on Monday. Gen Apirat flew to Aceh in Sumatra on  Tuesday to sign a security cooperation agreement with Indonesia aimed at helping end the insurgency in the far South. (Photo by Chanat Kayanyu)
Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong (centre) and senior military officers mark the 110th anniversary of the 1st Army Region on Monday. Gen Apirat flew to Aceh in Sumatra on Tuesday to sign a security cooperation agreement with Indonesia aimed at helping end the insurgency in the far South. (Photo by Chanat Kayanyu)

Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong flew to Aceh province on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Tuesday to sign an agreement on security cooperation in dousing the flames of southern unrest in Thailand.

Gen Apirat’s delegation to Aceh included army chief of staff Gen Thirawat Boonyawat, 4th Army Region commander Lt Gen Pornsak Poonsawat and Maj Gen Thira Daewa, director of the Peace Operations Centre of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) Region 4 Forward Command.

During his visit, the army chief will sign an agreement  with his Indonesian counterpart Gen Andika Perkasa on security operation in solving the southern insurgency.

Before his departure from Don Mueang airport, Gen Apirat briefly said he had earlier discussions with  Gen Andika on how to best tackle the unrest in the three southernmost border provinces. He added that he is the first Thai army chief to visit Aceh.

Gen Apirat refused to give further details of the planned talks. He was due to return to Thailand tonight.

There have been reports of links between militants in Aceh and insurgents in the deep South of Thailand since the robbery of weapons from a Thai military arsenal in 2004.

Muslim separatists in Aceh were reportedly involved in the raid and took some of the stolen weapons for their own fight for independence from Indonesia. The other stolen guns were kept by the Thai insurgents. 

There have also been reports that Aceh separatists sent instructors to train a youth separatist group, Permudaa, at ponoh Islamic schools in the far South.

Some sympathisers who were caught at the time admitted being trained by experts from overseas, but said they did not know where they were from as they covered their faces.

Those involved in the arsenal heist also claimed to be members of the Runda Kamputan Kecil (RKK) separatist group. The group was named after the training course run by a special task force in Indonesia.

Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who was army chief at the time, flew to Jakarta to seek cooperation from Indonesian military authorities in investigating the matter. However, there has been no progress.


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