South to get 3,000 more troops after violence escalates
Published on Dec 24, 2006
- The Army will early next year dispatch about 3,000 reinforcements to the southernmost provinces as militants intensify their attacks on civilians, particularly teachers and students.
"The Army will deploy 10 companies of paramilitary rangers to the southern provinces in January, and 20 companies in April. Their mission is to provide safety for teachers and people in those areas," chief of staff General Montri Sangkasap said yesterday.
Insurgents shot two teachers on Thursday morning while they were heading to Ban Takae School in Pattani's Yarang district.
One teacher, Chutima Rattanasamnieng, succumbed on Friday to serious wounds to her head while the other, who was hit in the jaw and neck, has improved but doctors are not sure she will be able to speak again.
The Army has beefed up protection for the public and teachers especially as the New Year is approaching, Montri said in response to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's warning that the rebels may step up their attacks before and after the holidays.
Sanguan Intarak, president of the Teachers' Federation of Narathiwat, said the Army had held a meeting with senior teachers and Army and police personnel on Thursday afternoon to discuss new measures following the attacks on the two teachers.
In the meeting, Fourth Army Area commander Lt-General Viroj Buacharoon apologised for what he said was the failure of security officers to protect the teachers.
"The commander said he was so sorry for being unable to protect the teachers and that he would take responsibility for the incident. He said the lack of cooperation between police and the Army, who were in charge of escorting the teachers to their school, had led to the death of the teacher," a source said.
A new security plan for teachers will be instituted, in which police promise to provide safety for the teachers from home to school. Police and the Army have been ordered to work more closely to extinguish the violence in the predominantly Muslim provinces, he said.
Earlier Colonel Nitmitr Chokpreecha, the Surat Thani provincial police chief, said police had uncovered thousands of rounds of ammunition which are believed to have been buried during the period when the government was fighting the Communist Party of Thailand (CPA).
The stash included 7,200 rounds of M-60 machine-gun ammunition and ammunition for M-16 assault rifles. They were wrapped in newspapers dated September 21 and December 2, 1980 and packed in an iron trunk.
Villagers found the box and alerted police, Nitmitr said, adding that the area where it was found used to be a CPA base.