Prayuth rules out split in South

National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) head Prayuth Chan-ocha has asserted he would not allow the separation of Muslim-dominated areas in Thailand's deep South from the rest of the country.

Gen Prayuth was speaking at the NCPO's weekly meeting yesterday after a devastating car bomb hit downtown Betong of Yala province last Friday, killing two people and injuring 52, according to Col Banphot Poonpian, spokesman of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

Col Banphot quoted Gen Prayuth ,who is also serving as the army chief, as saying that: "The Thai side is aware that resorting to violence as a means to fight violence is not a sustainable solution, and at the same time I will not allow a land separation or administrative separation of Thailand's deep South.

"I will try my best to take care of people's safety and their quality of life,'' he said.

Col Banphot said Gen Prayuth ordered the Isoc, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) and ministries involved in solving the deep South's problems to integrate their work and help  the public understand what authorities are doing to bring peace and unity to the region.

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  • Meanwhile, the Betong Provincial Court has approved warrants to arrest two suspects in connection with the Betong car bomb that went off in front of the Holiday Hill Hotel on Bhakdi Road, a busy commercial and residential area in Betong, a police source said.

    At least 10 people were found to be involved in the car bomb attack. They are thought to be hiding in Yala.

    In other violence, three separatists and a soldier were killed and one policeman wounded in two related incidents in Narathiwat yesterday.

    Pol Lt Marut Nilkosee, a duty officer at Rueso district police station, said the first incident occurred about 11.15am when Pol L/Cpl Asming Yuso, of Kota Baru police station, was attacked by a group of militants who opened fire on his Toyota Vios on the road between Sato and Salo villages in tambon Rueso while he was returning home. He was injured and his car damaged.

    The ambush took place about 200 metres from a joint-operations base of Rangers Company 4910 and Infantry Company 15133, prompting the two companies to send one operational team each to the scene.

    A clash between the two teams of soldiers and the militants followed for about five minutes. Three militants were killed. One soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Chainarong Wongsarat, was seriously wounded and admitted to Rueso Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

    The first militant killed in the clash was identified as Safwan Salae, a bomb-making expert. The second was Abdulloh Yunu, a commander-level militant.

    An Uzi assault rifle was found by his body. The body of the militant Abdulropha Salaeru was found nearby, with an 11mm pistol.

    Pol Lt Gen Suchart Thirasawat, deputy commander of the police operation centre of the southern border provinces, ordered a joint police, military and civilian force to comb the area.

    One girl was killed and six other people — two rangers, two young girls and two women — were wounded by a bomb explosion in a village in Sai Buri district of Pattani on Sunday night, police said.

    The Education Ministry will set up about 6,000 closed-circuit television cameras in 1,092 schools at high risk of attack in the deep South before the second semester opens in November, said Suthasri Wongsamarn, permanent secretary for education.

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