By The Nation
The search operation was led by Maj-General Jatuporn Klampasut, the commander of the Pattani Taskforce.
On Friday, four Rangers were killed while four others and a civilian were injured when Muslim insurgents detonated a homemade bomb to ambush a Ranger patrol unit in a pickup truck.
The incident occurred on Joh Kuayae-Sai Buri Road in Moo 1 village in Tambon Tabing in Sai Buri district.
Jatuporn said his intelligence officers had learned that young Muslim fighters belonging to two groups led by Yakarina Bagno and Samal Sani carried out the bomb attack.
Since the road was under construction, the authorities will also question the contractor, as workers should know best at which spots bombs could be hidden, Jatuporn said.
Jatuporn said the 500 officials would check suspected hiding places of Muslim insurgents in the district.
He said the impact of the loss of lives was incalculable and the killing had demoralised his personnel.
He noted that two of the four slain rangers were involved in a project to support some 200 mentally challenged children in the area.
“It’s regretful that we have lost these two officials after we have been trying to do good for the local people. We have been trying to do everything for the people and their children without dividing us and them,” Jatuporn said.
“We love the children like our own children. Although this happened, we will continue the project.”
Jatuporn said his taskforce has a list of suspected bombers and his officers have been trying to monitor moves of suspected insurgents.
He added that his taskforce learned that the insurgents had sent online messages about the planned attack two days in advance, but it was difficult for the authorities to prevent ambushes.