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General news >> Sunday March 18, 2007
Queen vows to protect southerners

Five RKK members arrested in raid

By Post reporters

Her Majesty the Queen is deeply concerned about the well-being of Thais in the three southern border provinces, deputy aide-de-camp Napol Boonthap revealed yesterday. Her Majesty did not want to see anymore innocent civilians, whether they are Buddhists or Muslims, killed in the insurgency-plagued region.

Invited to speak at a special lecture for alumni association members of schools under royal patronage, Gen Napol said Her Majesty has vowed to do whatever it takes to help protect local residents from insurgent attacks.

The Queen has already initiated weapons training programmes for locals in the region, particularly teachers.

As the level of violence and separatist attacks increase in the deep South, Gen Napol said the government should review its strategy and not only use a reconciliatory approach in dealing with the region's problems. ''Legal action must also be taken against the wrongdoers to show we mean business,'' he said.

Eight people were killed and two injured seriously when a passenger van was ambushed in another bold and daring attack by heavily-armed Muslim militants on Wednesday in Yala's Yaha district.

Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, security adviser to the prime minister, said the attack was part of an attempt to politically destabilise the region in an effort to establish a ''pure Islamic state'' where all citizens in the deep South would be Muslim. It was an idea propagated by al-Qaeda, he said.

He pointed out that the insurgents only tried to kill the van's Buddhist passengers but not the driver, who is a Muslim, in the cold-blooded assault.

Gen Wattanachai said to stop the killings the top leaders of the insurgent networks must be identified. At the moment, the authorities have only managed to identify those who have been paid to launch the terror attacks.

Army spokesman Akkara Tipparoj said yesterday that it is quite clear now that a network of four insurgent groups was responsible for spreading the violence in the southernmost border provinces. To cripple the network, authorities need to snap the connection between the Ulama, Logistic, Rundi Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), and the Permudo groups.

The Ulama group acts as the network's think-tank. Logistic is responsible for seeking and providing financial assistance and equipment, while RKK's responsiblity is to brainwash the militants and prepare them for launching the terror attacks. Permudo is its youth wing and is tasked with supporting the movement's deadly operations, such as scattering metal spikes on roads near attack scenes.

The spokesman said security officials are now trying to get more information from the six suspects detained for questioning in connection with the massacre of the van passengers in Yala.

A police source involved in the investigation of the van ambush said police believe at least 16 members of the RKK insurgent group were involved in the ambush.

Warrants have already been issued for their arrest.

Col Akkara said the curfew in the restive South would not be extended for the time being.

A local police team tasked to guard the motorcade of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn in Narathiwat's Bacho district yesterday found a bomb planted on Phetchakasem Road that the Crown Prince's motorcade was expected to pass.

The bomb was timed to go off 30 minutes before the arrival of the Crown Prince's motorcade at the spot.

A joint task force of soldiers, police and local officials yesterday arrested five suspected RKK members in Narathiwat's Sungai Padi district. The group was believed to be planning to stage a terror attack in the next three to four days.

In Rueso district, 60 military troopers raided insurgent hideouts in Ban Kor Tor community where militant training was reportedly held.

The troopers found and confiscated an M16 assault rifle, ammunition, a knife, and other military supplies.


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