Five soldiers injured by bombs, Patani insurgent killed in conflict-torn Thai South

Frightened children huddled on the classroom floor amid the sound of gunfire and a hovering helicoper as security forces and militants clashed in a rubber plantation near their school in Chanae district on Friday morning.

One militant was killed. Four others escaped but left trails of blood behind them.

In Sungai Padi district, five members of a security team patrolling a road along a railway track were wounded by the second of two bombs detonated by ambushers.

The first bomb was detonated about 7.30am when a soldier and five paramilitary rangers based at Toh Deng train station were patrolling a road parallel to the track in tambon Toh Deng of Sungai Padi district.

A steel box stuffed with explosives believed to weigh about 10 kilogrammes had been hidden in a pipe running beneath the road and was detonated remotely.

The patrol members were uninjured and opened fire into roadside bushes they believed were concealing the attackers.

As they tried to move away from the scene of the attack, a second bomb exploded about 15 metres from the first, wounding five of them. Three suffered serious injuries. The second bomb was inside a cooking gas cylinder and believed to weigh about 20kg.

Shortly before, about 7.15am, police and paramilitary rangers raided a rubber plantation in Ban Tue Kor in tambon Chanae of Chanae district.

They converged on a shelter where there were five armed men. The two sides exchanged gunfire for about half an hour. As the militants began retreating a helicopter was called in to help track them.

One militant was found dead at the scene. He was later identified as Abdulloh Masae. An AK-47 rifle and several empty magazines were beside his body.

There were blood trails leaving the area and it was believed other suspects were wounded.

Continue reading Bangkok Post: Five soldiers injured by bombs, insurgent killed in far South

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Thai military regime seeks talks with Muslim insurgents

Thailand’s military government has launched a high-profile effort to pacify the Buddhist nation’s three restive Muslim-majority provinces through what it calls “peaceful dialogue.”

The junta, which seized power in a coup against the country’s last elected government in 2014, has set up a Peace Dialogue Panel with several prominent army generals on it, including junta leader and Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, the prime minister.

The panel’s aim, the generals say, is to try and bring southern insurgents to the negotiating table to “de-escalate the situation.”

Since 2004 groups of Muslim separatists in the three southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia have been waging a bloody insurgency against rule from Bangkok.

Over the past 15 years, thousands of people, including hundreds of security personnel, have died in roadside bombings and guerrilla-style hit-and-run attacks by members of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (National Revolutionary Front), or BRN, and other Islamist militant groups.

Estimates of the casualty toll in the troubled region remain contested. Senior Thai officials say some 5,000 people have been killed, but the actual death toll could be considerably higher.

Thailand’s junta says it is ready to engage in talks with separatists unconditionally.

“We don’t have any preconditions [ahead of talks],” Gen. Udomchai Thamasarorat, the head of the Peace Dialogue Panel, told foreign journalists at a press event in Bangkok on Jan. 11. “We don’t impose, we don’t force. But we should seek to resolve these issues urgently.”

A former head of the Royal Thai Army’s 4th Army in Pattani province in southern Thailand, Gen. Udomchai, 65, said armed groups would not be expected to renounce violence before they agreed to engage in back-channel talks with Thai officials.

“We want to hear directly from them. If they want to remain anonymous, we are fine with that,” he said.

 

Continue reading UCA News: Thai junta seeks talks with Muslim insurgents

Patani Insurgents Bomb School, Attack Hospital in Thai South

On December 28, 2018, insurgents stormed Kalisa Hospital in Narathiwat province’s Ra-Ngae district, and used it as a stronghold to attack a nearby government security post. Before retreating, the insurgents tied up a doctor and other hospital staff.

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Family photo of police medic Capt. Sineenath Kongput, who was seriously wounded in a car bombing in Thepa district, Songkhla province, Thailand, on January 8, 2019.

Since the outbreak of armed insurgency in January 2004, ethnic Malay Muslim insurgents affiliated with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) have targeted numerous schools, killing and wounding students, teachers, and other education personnel. The insurgents consider school officials to be symbolic of the Thai Buddhist state’s occupation of Malay Muslim territory. They have frequently targeted security personnel assigned to provide students and teachers safe passage to and from school, or protecting the school grounds.

Public health services in the southern border provinces – where the number of doctors and nurses per capita is among the lowest in Thailand – have also been affected by the violence. The Public Health Ministry has reported that more than 100 public health volunteers and hospital staff have been killed and injured since 2004, and at least 28 community health centers burned down or bombed. Many community health centers have reduced their working hours and started closing their gates early to avoid attacks by insurgents after dark. Doctors have become less willing to visit patients outside hospitals, leaving public health work in the villages to paramedics and public health volunteers.

Continue reading Human Rights Watch

One dead in Thailand as tropical storm #Pabuk uproots trees, blows off roofs

Thailand’s first tropical storm in three decades killed one person on Friday as it arrived on the south coast, knocking down trees and blowing off roofs in its path, but was losing speed, officials said, while warning against the risk of flash floods.

Accompanying winds churned up high waves and gusts in the Gulf of Thailand as tropical storm Pabuk made landfall in the Pak Phanang district of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, where trees crashed down on houses to cause widespread damage.

Disaster mitigation officials said the person killed was among the crew of a fishing boat that capsized in strong winds near the coast of nearby Pattani province. Another of the crew was missing, but four others were safe.

Weather officials warned of torrential downpours and strong winds in 15 provinces in the Thai south, home to one of the world’s largest natural rubber plantations and several islands thronged by tourists.

But by Friday afternoon, the storm was slowing, and was heading for the province of Surat Thani, the Thai Meteorological Department said in a statement.

“It is expected to downgrade to be a tropical depression,” it added. “People should beware of the severe conditions that cause forest runoffs and flash floods.”

Continue reading Reuters

Patani insurgents revive ahead of new Thai election

Suspected insurgents in Thailand have launched multiple attacks in the kingdom’s predominantly Malay Muslim southernmost region as well as an adjoining province, signaling a possible escalation in violence ahead of February 24 general elections.

Insurgent attacks led by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) group had died down under four years of tough military rule. But the recent wave of violence serves as a message to the next government that the separatist movement in the borderland region maintains the capacity to stir unrest.

On December 27, simultaneous bombings were detonated in a beachside area of Songkhla town, with one of the explosions damaging the iconic Golden Mermaid statue situated near the famous BP Samila Beach Hotel and beachside restaurants.

Southern Thailand is world renowned for its Western tourist-attracting tropical beaches, though Songkhla town and Samila Beach attract far fewer foreign tourists compared to provinces in the country’s upper south such as Phuket and Krabi.

On the same night of those attacks, two bombs damaged two high-voltage power poles in the district of Khuan Niang, which borders on Phattalung province, just north of Songkhla.

Continue reading Asia Times: Thai insurgents revive ahead of new polls

Thai Soldiers Shot, Woman Killed in Fourth Day of Deep South Attacks

Violence presumed carried out by Muslim separatists has hit southern Thailand for the fourth day in a row, with three paramilitary soldiers wounded and a female civilian shot dead Saturday.

The soldiers in Narathiwat province were hurt in an ambush of their pickup truck, while the woman was killed in Pattani province.

On Friday night, four people in Narathiwat were wounded by one of several bombs suspected of being planted by the Muslim insurgents, security officials said, and there was a shootout between security forces and suspected insurgents who attacked a defense outpost at a small rural village.

The bombs mostly targeted utility poles and caused a blackout in one village.

Nearby Songkhla province on Wednesday and Thursday nights experienced similar small bombing attempts, including two that damaged well-known statues at a popular beach but caused no casualties.

No arrests have been reported for any of the attacks.

Drive-by shootings, roadside ambushes and bombings of utility poles have been common tactics used by Muslim separatists who since 2004 have been engaged in an insurgency that has wracked Thailand’s deep south and left about 7,000 people dead.

The insurgency has mostly affected the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, which have Muslim majorities in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Songkhla, with a substantial Muslim population, has generally been spared the violence, though its biggest city, Hat Yai, has suffered several bombings.

Source Khaosod English: Soldiers Shot, Woman Killed in Fourth Day of Deep South Attacks

Thai South: Kamnam assistant slain in Pattani

An assistant to the kamnan of tambon Pado in Mayo district of this troubled southern border province died of severe injuries after being shot in a gun attack on Saturday night, police said.

Police said the incident occurred at about 8.50pm while Mahama Roning Nawae, 40, the assistant to the chief of tambon Pado, was about to leave on a motorcycle from his house to a village tea shop.  A gunman hiding in the dark in front of his house opened fire at him with a shotgun, hitting him once in the body.

Seriously injured, Mahama was rushed to Mayo Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police were investigating to establish whether the attack was related to southern insurgency as the kamnam assistant was known to be active in drug suppression.

Source Bangkok Post: Kamnam assistant slain in Pattani