Army chief unsatisfied with southern counter-insurgency operations

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PATTANI, April 19 – Thailand’s Army chief Gen Prayuth Chanocha said he is not satisfied with the overall approach and security operations coping with the country’s ongoing southern insurgency, but even as he spoke five more deaths were registered in the insurgency.

In the latest development, a combined force of police, soldiers and local administration officials exchanged gunfire with a group of suspected insurgents in Krongpinang district of Yala province. Police said five suspects were shot dead in the clash.

Gen Prayuth, speaking while in this southern province to inspect the insurgency Thursday, said the duty of security personnel is to protect civilians from death and injury. He visited the province to determine what the real problem is and how to reduce insurgent incidents.

He noted although there have been less insurgent incidents, there have been more deaths and incidents became more serious.

Gen Prayuth added it is pleasant all parties wish to be a part to find solutions to the country’s southern problem, which he believed would help fix the problem quicker.

“Weapons alone cannot cope with such matters, but rather several aspects need to be looked into,” he said.

According to the army chief, strategies must be adjusted for the public’s safety. He admitted current protection plans are not perfect, for a high budget will be needed.

“I want this issue to end even tomorrow,” he said, “so my subordinates can go home and take care of their families.”

Meanwhile, deputy premier overseeing national security Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa said three suspects were arrested following the March 31 car bomb incidents in Yala, but two were later released as there was no solid evidence implicating them.

The deputy premier spoke after a security meeting in Pattani. The suspect still held will be further prosecuted.

Gen Yuthasak said he had assigned a policy to related personnel to prevent further insurgent incidents, including management of safety zones, vehicle checkpoints, and proactive strategies to pressure insurgents.

The two car bombings in Yala’s provincial seat claimed 12 lives and wounded about 200 victims. On the same day, another car bomb at Hat Yai’s Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel killing three persons, including two Malaysian tourists and wounding more than 400 people.