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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    3 August  2012

Thai Military to use new tactics for south Thailand insurgency


In the wake of a surge in insurgency violence and frequent car-bomb attacks in the deep South, new military tactics and heightened security measures will be deployed, including armed aerial reconnaissance, Thailand Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat said yesterday.

In an interview yesterday, he said imposing curfews would also be an option in areas where the insurgents operated to minimise night-time attacks and limit their movements.

"About the curfews, nothing has been discussed [by senior security officials] in detail and I cannot yet comment on it, especially on legal aspects when certain laws are concerned," he added.

Sukampol said he had discussed with the Army and Air Force leadership the possible use of aerial patrols or armed reconnaissance during future land operations by soldiers. "In the case of the insurgent ambush that killed four soldiers recently, the attack would not have been successful if there had been a plane flying overhead providing early warning or close air support. Anyway, the commanders will discuss the use of air power in detail later on," he added.

He did not cite the specific types of aircraft that could be used in aerial armed reconnaissance, but said the Air Force sorties would be "small-sized" operations and the aircraft used "would not be F-16 fighters".

Media reports speculated that more armed helicopters would be used on a regular basis to patrol areas ahead of or above ground forces during their foot or mounted patrols.

Sukampol apologised to residents in the region about the tighter security measures put in place, which would cause them inconvenience or affect their daily lives. Asked if he thought that authorities were still in control of the situation given the frequent violent attacks, Sukampol asked reporters their opinion. He was silent after hearing that the attacks were now on a regular basis while the government claimed otherwise.

Fourth Army Area commander Lt-General Udomchai Thammararojrat said military intelligence service was working hard on sorting out how to respond to reports about five car-bomb attacks being planned by the insurgents.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasaprapha said the newly established operations centre was well in progress to carry out initial tasks and that he thought curfews would not be immediately needed. He said the setting-up of the 15th Infantry Division in Pattani was progressing, to take charge of regular security operations.

A proposal to impose post-Ramadan curfews has been submitted by the Internal Security Operations Command and is awaiting Cabinet approval, said a military source, while intelligence sources warned that insurgent leaders have instructed their operatives to target VIPs based in the South.

A number of defence research and development units have also been instructed to speed up their projects to devise equipment for personal safety or explosives-detection technology for troops deployed in the deep South, an Army spokesperson said at a press conference yesterday.

Security has been tighter in seven business areas in four provinces in the deep South, while extra measures were also adopted in existing safety zones elsewhere as a direct result of the latest car bomb on Tuesday night at CS Pattani Hotel in Pattani, which saw heavy damage to the building and injuries to six people. More security patrols and road checkpoints are now in place in Muang and Betong districts in Yala; Muang Pattani district; Muang, Tak Bai, Sungai Kolok districts in Narathiwat, and Hat Yai districts in Songkhla.

A war room has been set up in Songkhla in the wake of three car bombs in recent weeks to prevent possible insurgent attacks or car bombs in Hat Yai. Provincial governor Krissada Bunraj also ordered an inspection of the emergency safety features and drills at government offices and department stores through coordination of civilian and military personnel. Two pickup trucks reported stolen are on a watch list - a silver Toyota Vigo and a silver Isuzu D-Max - after vehicles were seized by insurgents in the past by killing the drivers or occupants.

There were three car-bomb attacks during the ongoing one-month Muslim Ramadan period, which began on July 20, and 47 people were killed in July alone, including 26 civilians and one insurgent, apart from injuries to 98 people in various types of insurgent attacks.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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