ISOC sceptical of southern group's clam of responsibility for school bombing.
THE SOUTHERN separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) said the attacks this week, including the blast in front of a school in Narathiwat that killed a five-year-old girl and the train bombing in Pattani, were aimed at conveying its opposition to the peace talks between the government and the MARA Patani group.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and visiting Malaysian premier Najib Razak will discuss today the peace process that is facilitated by Malaysia.
A meeting between the government delegation and MARA last week in Kuala Lumpur yielded no concrete results, though both sides said they had reached common ground on the terms of reference for the peace talks.
MARA Patani claims to be an umbrella organisation of insurgent groups in the deep South. However, an observer said the BRN has rejected this claim and tried to prove that the peace process with MARA would never end the violence. More than 6,500 people have been killed since the predominantly Muslim region was rocked by violence since 2004.
A BRN source told The Nation that the organisation is strongly opposed to the ongoing peace talks between the government and MARA Patani, and has demonstrated its disapproval by attacking a number of specific targets to get its message across. This includes the recent attack on the Paramilitary Ranger unit near Narathiwat’s Cho Ai Rong district that was set to be designated a “safety zone” under an initiative by the authorities and MARA Patani. The idea of a safety zone was proposed again during the meeting in Kuala Lumpur, but was not accepted.
School attack “a mistake”
The train incident last Saturday was aimed at showing BRN’s capacity and determination to discredit the recent resumption of talks between Bangkok and MARA Patani, but the death of a five-year-old girl and her father on Tuesday was a mistake, the same source said.
The Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) does not believe the claim, saying Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) – the military wing of BRN – has not admitted to playing a role in the attacks.
Rear Admiral Somkiat Polprayoon, the deputy chief of the coordinating centre attached to Isoc, yesterday dismissed reports that leading members of RKK had admitted that its cell in Narathiwat was responsible for the bombing outside a school in Tak Bai district and other incidents.
Some people use news reports to create benefits for their own side, he said. “In the past, neither the RKK nor any other group had taken responsibility for the unrest in the southern border provinces,” he said.
The peace dialogue between Thailand and the separatists is ongoing and it should be left to those involved to discuss and bring clarity on who exactly was behind the attacks, he added.
Meanwhile, violence continued with a roadside bomb exploding in Pattani’s Yarang district yesterday morning, but there were no casualties.
The bomb went off when an armoured car escorting two teachers’ cars to schools in Tambon Khao Toom passed by at around 7.40pm, resulting in damage to the three vehicles.
Meanwhile, Narathiwat’s Ban Taba School director Saravuth Yodrak said that though the school was operating normally, up to 90 per cent of the students had not shown up after Tuesday morning’s bombing.
Since many of the students’ families might be getting ready to visit relatives for the Hari Raya festival on September 12, the pupils may return only a few days later, he added.
Meanwhile, the owners of the four shophouses opposite the school that were damaged by the Tuesday morning blast are still waiting for money from state agencies to cover the repairs. The shop owners are temporarily lodging with relatives, as they do not have enough money to pay for the repairs.
Rosampee Awae, wife of slain food vendor Talmisi Mada-oh, lamented that she was unable to cope with the loss of her husband. They have an eight-month-old son. Talmisi was the family’s sole breadwinner, earning Bt200 daily from selling sweets in front of the school, while she was a housewife, she said.