6 Soldiers Die in Thai Deep South Ambush

BenarNews staff
Narathiwat, Thailand
170427-TH-rangers-720.jpg Paramedics prepare to remove the body of one of six rangers killed in a roadside ambush by suspected insurgents in Janae, a district in southern Thailand’s Narathiwat province, April 27, 2017.

Updated at 4:43 p.m. ET on 2017-04-27

Suspected insurgents killed six soldiers in a roadside ambush Thursday in the Thai Deep South, authorities said, in the single deadliest attack on the region’s security forces in at least two years.

The gunmen shot all six after a bomb explosion caused the truck the soldiers were riding in to run off the road in Janae, a district of Narathiwat province, according to officials.

Four of the rangers died at the scene and the two others succumbed to their injuries at a local hospital, officials said. No one else was injured.

“We received a report that there was an attack on rangers on the road at Ri-ngae village in Janae district at around 2 p.m. I believe the insurgents tried to instigate violence,” Lt. Col. Sailom Rod-uppo, deputy chief of the police station in Janae, told BenarNews.

A policeman who inspected the site of the attack said the assailants tried to burn the six soldiers after shooting them.

“The assailants exploded the truck and sprayed bullets … at the six ... they poured fuel on the truck and, before leaving, they stole weapons from the dead,” the officer told BenarNews on condition of anonymity.

“Luckily, the fire did not burn much because other officials rushed to the scene quickly. I suspect the insurgents were trying to stir something up,” he said.

The attack took place on the eve of the anniversary of the so-called Krue Se incident in 2004, when 32 suspected insurgents who were holed up inside a mosque in nearby Pattani province were killed in a gun battle with security forces. That incident helped re-ignite a decades-long separatist conflict in the Deep South.

Thursday’s ambush occurred amid a cycle of violence in which dozens of people have been killed or injured across the region since the start of the year, and as Thailand’s military government has tried to negotiate a ceasefire with rebels in the predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South.

Earlier this month, 12 police officers were injured in an ambush by suspected rebels at a checkpoint in nearby Yala province.

Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the largest and most powerful of the southern Thai rebel groups, is believed to be behind the cycle of violence.

On April 10, the highly secretive BRN issued a statement rejecting informal peace talks that have been under way for two years between the Thai junta and MARA Patani, an umbrella group representing the BRN and other insurgent organizations in those negotiations.

At a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in late February, MARA and Thai government negotiators achieved a breakthrough. They agreed to set up a limited ceasefire in the Deep South, but that has yet to take effect and attacks have persisted in the region.

“Today’s attack was exacted on the prime target, the military. I believe the insurgents were planning to do this for a lengthy period. BRN has a policy to launch coordinated, big attacks every quarter …,” Retired Gen. Samrej Srirai, a former deputy military commander in the region, told BenarNews by phone.

Since Jan. 1, including Thursday’s latest attack, 36 people have been killed and 38 injured in multiple incidents across the Deep South. Overall, nearly 7,000 people have died since 2004 in violence associated with the insurgency.


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