Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said about 60-70% of shops were open yesterday in the three troubled southernmost provinces, adding that the chief of the 4th Army Region had given assurances that trading activity will return to complete normality by the middle of November.
Following reports of foreign websites making inflammatory statements about the military's handling of the unrest in the troubled region, Gen Yutthasak said arrests cannot be made for inciting potential violence because it is not known who the offenders are.
However, the intelligence chief will raise the issue with his Malaysian counterpart during a meeting next month, he added.
In Yala municipality yesterday, the majority of vendors at Pimolchai fresh market opened their stalls early in the morning with a large, highly visible security presence of troops, police, municipal employees and volunteers nearby.
Normal working Fridays were thrown into chaos three weeks ago when Muslim insurgents threatened vendors in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat if they opened their shops on Fridays, the Muslim day of prayer.
The government's Suk Sukh Hansa (Happy Friday) campaign was launched yesterday with municipal officials being sent to mingle with vendors and customers to assure them they were safe.
As an incentive to get businesses open, the provincial municipality also introduced a lucky draw for shop and stall owners who open on Friday.
In Pattani province, vendors and consumers appeared to be showing more confidence in the security forces. The number of vendors, both Buddhist and Muslim, who opened for business in the Thetwiwat 1 fresh market municipality area doubled from last week.
Meanwhile, Matubhum Party leader and former army chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin believes the solution to the southern unrest lies with knowing exactly who security forces are up against. Intelligence is therefore the most important issue, he said.
Gen Sonthi was speaking at a meeting on intelligence integration and solutions to the southern violence at police headquarters yesterday. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung.
In Pattani's Yarang district, a retired police officer was killed by insurgents at Kayomatee cemetery about 7am.
Police, soldiers and medical units rushed to the scene after receiving a report of the shooting. They found the body of retired Pol Sub Lt Wutichai Kharao, 70, a resident of Yarang district. He had been shot in the head and torso.
In Yala's Raman district, a joint force of police and soldiers searched a pickup parked in front of a house in Pulasano village of tambon Jakwae after a tip-off that the vehicle had been stolen from Muang district on March 20.
The homeowner, Farid Hama, said the vehicle was parked in front of his house about 2am yesterday. He said he did not know who the driver was.
Pol Maj Gen Peera Bunleang, commander of Yala Provincial Police, said the vehicle had been used in several attacks on security forces.
In Narathiwat's Si Sakhon district, a 50-strong combined force of police and soldiers raided a safe house on a mountain in Yagabong village.
The safe house once belonged to 38-year-old Sofh Toleunor, a suspected member of the Runda Kumpulan Kecil insurgent group, who was killed by security forces on Monday.
Officials believed three or four other group members were in the area.
Four walkie-talkies and bomb-making materials were found buried about 30 metres from the safe house, police said.