Thailand: Roadside Bomb, Ambush Kills 3 Policemen in Yala

BenarNews staff
Yala, Thailand
160923-TH-bomb-car-1000.jpg Thai security officials examine the wreckage of a police pickup truck that was targeted in a roadside bombing in Krong Pinang district, Yala province, Sept. 23, 2016.

Three policemen were killed and two others wounded when they were ambushed in a roadside bombing and shooting by suspected rebels in the Thai Deep South on Friday, officials said.

The attack in Yala province’s Krong Pinang district brought to 12 the number of people killed in bombings in Thailand’s insurgency-stricken far southern border region in recent weeks. Another four people were killed in 11 bombings that struck Thai tourist areas outside the confines of the Deep South last month.

The recent attacks and the one on Friday took place against the backdrop of ongoing efforts by the Thai junta to open formal peace talks with rebels.

Friday’s bombing and shooting targeted seven police officers while they were traveling in two pickup trucks between the villages of Ban Benja and Ban Lubohkalo, authorities said.

Officials believe that a group of about seven insurgents was hiding out in a rubber plantation near the road when the bomb went off and struck the second police vehicle. The rebels then came out and opened fire to prevent officers from aiding their colleagues in the exploded truck. The insurgents stole three rifles and three handguns from police before fleeing the scene, officials said.

The dead police officers were identified as Cpl. Nathapong Chartdam, Lance Cpl. Suriya Nunim, and Lance Cpl. Attahapol Luathep.


The explosion from the 80-kilo (176-pound bomb) cut the truck in two and left a crater that measured 13 feet wide. The device was hidden in a sewer and triggered with a battery. Remnants of a gas cylinder were found at the scene, according to officials.

Yala police Commander Itthiphol Achariyapradit said officers were hunting for insurgents.

“We believe the attackers were led by Hubaideelah Rommuelee, the insurgent commander with his active group in the area,” he told reporters.

‘A wider conflict’

Thai police have linked last month’s bombings in the upper south to people in the Deep South but have denied that those attacks signal an expansion of the separatist conflict, which has killed more than 6,000 people in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking border region since 2004.

However, a report issued this week by an NGO that studies conflicts worldwide and recommends solutions for them contradicted this assertion by Thailand’s military government.

“[T]he scale of the August attacks, geographic reach and choice of targets mark a clear shift, and apparent decision to expand the conflict,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said in its report, referring to the Aug. 11 and 12 attacks in tourist hotspots.

“The August bomb attacks in the upper south raise the specter of a wider conflict, with more attacks in tourist areas. That should prompt the NCPO to reconsider its approach of containing the insurgency and seeking militant capitulation rather than a comprehensive political solution,” ICG added, referring to the junta by its official name, the National Council for Peace and Order.

The report also cast doubt on the junta’s efforts to open formal talks aimed at ending the conflict in the Deep South.

Earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur, government officials and southern rebel groups led by MARA Patani agreed to discuss a limited ceasefire at future meetings.

“The peace dialogue between Thailand’s military government and some Malay-Muslim separatist leaders in exile has foundered. Coordinated bombings in August on tourist areas outside the customary conflict zone in the deep south bear the hallmarks of the separatists and indicate that the government’s approach of containing the insurgency is not working,” according to International Crisis Group.

“The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which seized power in the 2014 coup, professes to support dialogue to end the insurgency but avoids commitment, and the prime minister has questioned the talks. The main insurgent group has rejected the process, and the number of fighters the umbrella entity set up to negotiate in 2015 controls is unknown,” the report added.


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