South emergency decree to be eased

South emergency decree to be eased

The emergency decree imposed in three southern border provinces will be gradually lifted in areas where insurgent activity has eased and conditions have improved and be replaced with the Internal Security Act, Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said on Tuesday.

Gen Yutthasak, who is in charge of national security, said he expected Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to sign an order on Tuesday to appoint him chairman of the executive committee of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

After the official appointment, he will begin to integrate the operations of three agencies - Isoc, the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre (SBPAC) and police - to eradicate overlapping work.

He said Isoc will then be assigned to assess the situation in each locality.

In areas where the insurgency is found to have been considerably reduced and life has improved, the emergency decree will be lifted and replaced with the Internal Security Act - the same as in Chana, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi and Thepha districts of Songkhla and Mae Lan district of Pattani.

Gen Yutthasak said although the situation has improved there are still "red" areas in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces where separatist groups are active and continue to pose a threat to national security and put pressure on the government.

Article 21 of the ISA will continue to be applied to pursuade those who have joined or supported the separatist movement to surrender to the authorities.

Isoc will be assigned to play a more active role in doing this while the SBPAC will be responsible for providing  occupational training for those who surrender, he said.

On a suggestion by a Pheu Thai subcommittee, chaired by Prasop Bussarakham, a former Udon Thani MP, for the party to propose a bill to set up a special administrative zone in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, Gen Yutthasak said the matter is sensitive and needs to be thoroughly studied by Isoc and the National Security Council (NSC).

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing killed a soldier and wounded another in Yala’s Krong Penang district on Tuesday morning.

Krong Penang Police chief Samniang Luechiangkam said the two soldiers were members of a security unit patrolling a local road at Ban Kuwa in tambon Huay Krating of Krong Penang district at about 6.30am when the bomb went off.

Sgt-Maj Preecha Kongpakdee, 52, died at Yala Hospital, while L-Cpl Thongchai Boonchuay, 23, was declared out of danger.

Police blamed separatist militants.

More than 5,000 people have been killed and over 8,400 hurt in the three southern border provinces and the four districts of Songkhla since the violence erupted afresh in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch, an agency that monitors the conflict in the far South.

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