Army vows fair probe into killings of rebel suspects

Army vows fair probe into killings of rebel suspects

An investigation into the killing of four suspected insurgents by security officers in Pattani's Thung Yang Daeng district last month will be conducted in a fair and straightforward manner, the army chief says.

Deputy Defence Minister and army chief Udomdej Sitabutr said yesterday he ordered Lt Gen Prakarn Chonlayuth, Commander of 4th Army Region, who also serves as head of the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) Region 4 Forward Command, to carry out a probe without bias to ensure fairness.

"What is right is right. What is wrong is wrong," Gen Udomdej said, adding authorities will always abide by the law and never take sides.

"We will take responsibility for any action if it is proved to be unlawful," he said.

Isoc Region 4 Forward Command had appointed a team to look into the case of four men who were shot dead during a clash with security officials in Moo 6 of Ban To Chut in Pattani's Thung Yang Daeng district last month.

Led by Waedoramae Mamingji, chairman of the Pattani Islamic Committee, the panel also includes local religious and community leaders, representatives of the Forward Command, the Islamic University and the police.

The team held the first round of talks last week and the probe is expected to be wrapped up by today.

The four men killed were Suhaimee Seniae, 32, son of the deputy chairman of Piten Tambon Administration Organisation, and three Islamic University students − Kholid Samaeng, 24, Madaree Maeroh, 23 and Saddam Wanu, 23.

They were shot dead during an anti-insurgency raid on a house in Thung Yang Daeng district.

Security officers said the men opened fire at them first. Their families insist the men were not connected to the insurgency and were innocent.

After the gunfight, 22 detainees were questioned by security officials.

Gen Udomdej called on locals to understand the need for officials to conduct raids to clamp down on illegal activities.

He said the area where the incident took place is considered violent and crime prone.

"Lt Gen Prakarn and I are sincere and wish to solve the problems of violence and unrest that continue to plague the deep South," Gen Udomdej said, insisting soldiers in the deep South were told to treat local people with respect. 

"We need to create understanding between the authorities and locals and boost confidence in the authorities," Gen Udomdej said.

Authorities said earlier they suspected the incident could have been sparked by the group of people who are trying to discredit the Thung Yang Daeng model, which combines the resources and manpower of military, police and civilian units.

The model is aimed at promoting closer cooperation between security officers and residents in the area.

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