Rebels Attack Thai Military Outpost on Malaysian Border

Matahari Ismail and Mariyam Ahmad
Narathiwat and Pattani, Thailand
Rebels Attack Thai Military Outpost on Malaysian Border Lt. Gen. Kriangkrai Srirak (center), commander of the 4th Army Region, visits a government outpost that was attacked by suspected insurgents, in the Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, southern Thailand, Aug. 3, 2021.

A Thai soldier was killed and four others were injured when insurgents attacked a military outpost along the Malaysian border in Thailand’s Deep South on Tuesday, officials said, a day after government forces shot dead a suspected rebel.   

The Thai army commander in the region said that authorities had asked Malaysian officials for help in checking reports that the rebels had fled into Malaysia after mounting the attack across the Kolok River, which separates the two countries in that area.

The attack took place 2:15 a.m. at the makeshift base in Moo 1, a village located in the Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, officials said. Soldiers were stationed there to prevent illegal border crossings as a COVID precaution measure, they added.

“There were eight servicemen on duty” at the base, Col. Thaweerat Benjathikul, the commander of the 45th Ranger Task Force Regiment, told reporters.

“And at least 15 armed men cut the lights, encircled and fired upon them with guns and hurled pipe-bombs at them. The fight lasted about 15 minutes.”

Thaweerat said security personnel found more than 50 casings from an M-16 rifle, AK-47 assault rifles and shotguns at the attack site. The slain soldier was identified as Kiattikhajorn Nakdee, he said, adding that the injured servicemen did not have life-threatening injuries.

“[I] believe the attackers were avenging the death of Rosalee Lamso,” he said.

According to military officials, Rosalee was the leader of a cell of separatist fighters who was gunned down by government forces on Monday after a five-hour standoff at his father-in-law’s home in Pattani, another province in the Deep South.

He was wanted in connection with several attacks, including the murder of a couple in a car-bomb explosion in 2017.


‘Attackers were certainly Thais’

A Thai official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the insurgents who perpetrated Tuesday’s attack had crossed the river from Malaysia to launch the attack before retreating.

BenarNews tried to reach Abdul Rahim Noor, the Malaysian broker of southern Thai peace talks, but he did not respond right away on Tuesday night – nor did Gen. Wanlop Rugsanaoh, Thailand’s chief negotiators in those talks. Senior Malaysian police officials also did not respond immediately to related inquiries from BenarNews.

Col. Kiatisak Neewong, spokesman for ISOC-4, the military’s regional command, said officials found boot marks along the river bank and were investigating them.

“We do not rule out any motives, but the attackers were certainly Thais,” said Kiatisak.

Lt. Gen. Kriangkrai Srirak, the commander for the 4th Army Region, which covers Thailand’s southern region, went to inspect the site of Tuesday’s attack.

“We have asked Malaysia to help,” he said.

Since the decades-old separatist insurgency reignited in January 2004, more than 7,000 people have been killed in Thailand’s southern border region, according to Deep South Watch, a Pattani think-tank.

Face-to-face peace talks between Thailand and the National Revolutionary Front, or BRN -- the largest armed insurgent group in the far south -- have been stalled since March last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But both sides said they were still meeting online through technical-level panels.

The last virtual meeting was held in February, Malaysian facilitator Rahim Noor confirmed to BenarNews at the time.


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