South operations centre to be set up
PM Yingluck orders a special operations centre be set up to coordinate and oversee efforts to bring peace to the far South, as police on security point duty are warned a bomb-laden car is on its way to Yala municipality.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa said on Tuesday that Ms Yingluck wants a central operation to specifically tackle the situation in the far South.
Gen Yutthasak, who is in charge of security affairs, said Ms Yingluck issued the instruction at today's meeting of security agencies. The meeting was attended by Gen Yutthasak, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, deputy army chief Daopong Rattanasuban and National Security Council chief Wichean Potephosree.
He said the centre would be a permanent agency which would integrate the operations of all agencies involved in the solving the problem to ensure better efficiency and harmony.
This was not a change of policy, just an adjustment of the work procedures, Gen Yutthasak added.
He admitted that present intelligence operations were not effective, judging from the escalating level of violence lately in the three southernmost border provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.
The insurgents had stepped up their operations, employing new guerrilla tactics. There were two groups of militants whose leaders were fighting each other in terms of combat capability, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm said he felt heavy-hearted to have been assigned to help oversee the situation in the far South, but would try to do his best.
Mr Chalerm said he would call a meeting of senior police officers in the South to hear their opinions.
He insisted that it was not necessary for the prime minister to go to the South, as doing so would only be an added burden on local authorities.
Jurin Laksanavisit, a Democrat Party MP and chief of the opposition whips, said the opposition would file an urgent motion with the House of Representatives seeking debate on the situation in the South.
Mr Jurin said the situation was becoming worse every day. In the month of June alone, there were 80 incidents in which 47 people were killed - 15 government employees, 31 civilians and only one militant.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, the prime minister had never visited the troubled areas to get first-hand information, he said.
Meanwhile, police manning security checkpoints on roads entering Yala provincial township have been ordered to watch out for a black Toyota Vios car which may have been fitted with a bomb.
The order was issued by Pol Maj-Gen Peera Boonliang, the Yala police chief, acting on a tip-off.
He said the driver would be a woman dressed in Muslim clothing so the car would more easily pass through security checkpoints.
It was believed a bomb had been placed in the car, and that militants planned to explode it at a spot inside the municipality, or in a nearby area, with petrol stations in particular likely to be targetted, he said.
31 July 2012
A soldier oversees security at a school in the deep South. (Photo by Muhammad Ayub Pathan)