Defence Minister praises Marines for defence against southern insurgents


BANGKOK, Feb 13 – Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat today praised Marines in Thailand’s southern province of Narathiwat for successfully protecting a military base from an insurgent attack in which 16 assailants were killed.

The incident prompted the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) to impose a 24-hour curfew in six sub-districts of Narathiwat and nearby Pattani, starting at 6am today.

Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol quoted an official report as saying that 70-80 heavily-armed insurgents, clad in military uniforms and some with bullet-proof vests, attempted to storm into the military base in Narathiwat early this morning but were met with fierce retaliation by marine forces.

Sixteen insurgents were killed while nine assault rifles and two pickup trucks were seized. The authorities found ropes and metal wire on the insurgents’ bodies, and believe that the assailants planned to capture some officers as hostages.

Local authorities said the confiscated weapons were stolen from military, police and defence volunteer units while the bullet-proof vests belonged to volunteers.

The defence minister said an overall curfew depends on a decision by the Centre for Implementation of Policies and Strategies for Solving Southern Problems, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung. The committee is scheduled to meet on Friday. (MCOT online news)