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Southern businesses targeted by arsonists

Arsonists target businesses

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Insurgents set fires at shops and factories across Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces early Friday and soldiers providing teacher protection were bombed, with one fatality, as rebels step up their attacks ahead of the end of Ramadan "violence-free period". (Photo by Maluding Dito)

 

Southern businesses targeted by arsonists

  • Published: 2 Aug 2013 at 13.24
  • Online news: Local News Bangkopk Post
  • Militants in the far South have added businesses - big and small - to their current list of targets and officials and analysts agree the insurgency is intensifying ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week.
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  • Destroyed bicycles and motorcycles at a shop set on fire in Nong Chik district of Pattani province early Friday morning. The store is a branch of Phithan Panich company  (photo Abdulloh Benjakat)
  • Insurgents, however, also continue their relentless attacks on security forces protecting teachers.

    Fires were set at 12 locations in Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces in seemingly coordinated attacks by arsonists between 3am and 4am on Friday, most of them at shops or factories.

    Yala suffered the most with four factories and one mobile phone signal tower burned, all in Muang district. Pattani had four incidents, the worst a fire at the Phithan Panich company's branch in Nong Chik district, where 64 motorcycles and bicycles were destroyed. Two small shops in Thepha district and another in Saba Yoi were also set ablaze.

    "They were aimed at destroying the economy in those areas,'' said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on   Thailand at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    Factories set on fire in Yala included Teck Bee Hang Co, P Parawood Co, Yala Tharnthong Co and Union Plastic Ltd. Some convenience and clothing shops were also set on fire in the other two provinces.

    Pinyo Chuaymak, a security guard for Pitan Panich, told police that about five attackers broke through the front gate about 3am and fired shots at him before they burned the place and fled the scene. He was injured and was being treated at Khok Pho Hospital.

    He believed the attack underscored the opposition by some groups of insurgents to the Ramadan ceasefire agreed to between Thailand and the Barisan  Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement, he said.

    Col Pramote Phrom-in, spokesman for the 4th Region of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc),  condemned the arsonists, saying the attackers were "biting'' instead of coming out in the open.

    National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradon Pattanatabut said increasing number of attacks was setting a pattern for the southern insurgency before the holy fasting month on ends.

    Ramadan is to end in Thailand next Friday, Aug 9,  with the Eid al-Fitr festival.

    The violence-free 40-days period agreed to by Thailand and the BRN runs until Aug 18.

    The latest fires called into question of the role of Malaysia, which is a facilitator of the peace dialogue between the Thai delegation and the BRN.

    Lt Gen Paradon said authorities were compiling a report, including evidence and other information, to forward to Kuala Lumpur and seeking answers from asking the BRN about the rising level of violence in the southern border provinces.

    Thailand expected that the reply from the BRN through Malaysia would be about their power to control insurgents on the ground and a solution to the problems.

    The NSC chief remainded adamant that the talks will resume despite the violencee. The date for the next meeting has not been set. Both sides agreed it will be in August, sometime after Ramadan.

    Mr Sunai, of HRW, said he expected a bigger role from Malaysia.  ''The Malaysian mechanism has not been used,'' he said.

    Failure to address the problems could hamper future talks in an effort to end southern violence.

    Business operators and officials were still evaluating the damage caused by the morning fires.

    Security authorities responsible for school protection were also assessing the latest attacks by insurgents.

    Army conscript Tanwa Damphol was injured when a bomb went off at Kapho Phien Anusorn School in Kapho district of Pattani about 9am, police said.

    Mr Tanwa was taking a break after accompanying teachers to the school and was sitting in the area where the home-made bomb exploded.

    About two hours earlier, home-made bombs killed one military ranger in Yala and slightly injured another in Narathiwat. Both men were members of patrols assigned to protect teachers.

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  • Security authorities check the crime scene after a bomb killed a ranger patrolling a road used by teachers going to school in Rangae district of Narathiwat province on Friday. (Photo by Wadao Harai)
    • Cpl Natthapong Longkaew was killed instantly by a bomb explosion about 7.30am near Ban Bangosinae. He was part of an eight-member team on foot patrol on a road between Yaha district of Yala and Ban Neang in Muang district, Pol Lt Col Prasom Luangpool, chief investigator of Yaha police station said.

      Police found pieces of a fire extinguisher and scorched electrical wires at the crime scene. They believed the bomb was detonated by a signal from a mobile phone.

      The ranger patrol was checking the road to ensure the safety of teachers being taken to schools in the area when it was attacked.

      Another bomb, also believed to be triggered by a mobile phone, went off 10 minutes earlier at Ban Jekae in Rangae district of Narathiwat province while 12 rangers were walking along a local road to protect teachers at the school in the village, Snr Sgt Maj Rachakal Sitthichan told Rangae police.

      Snr Sgt Maj Rachakal believed that an insurgent sitting in a teashop with other locals secretly triggered the bomb by mobile phone before  departing the scene.

      Pol Col Jiradet Phrasawang, chief of Rangae police, also blamed insurgents.

    ***

 

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