Full alert in South on 9th anniversary of controversial ‘gun robbery day

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YALA, Jan 4 – Security measures have been heightened in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, bordering Malaysia, today as it is the ninth anniversary of a military weapons robbery at an army camp in nearby Narathiwat province.

Pol Maj-Gen Pira Boonliang, Yala provincial police commander, ordered administrative, police and military officials to be on alert and strictly screen all vehicles entering town centres to prevent carrying in explosives or weapons.

On January 4, 2004, military weapons were stolen from the Narathiwat Rajanagarind army camp after which a number of suspects were arrested and jailed. Human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who defended the accused, was abducted several months later, apparently in connection with his call for the release of the suspects whom, he said, were tortured to confess. He has been missing ever since.

Col Pramote Prom-in, spokesman of the Fourth Region of Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), said the January 4, 2004 incident has been a lesson for security officials in adjusting their measures and integrating the activities of related state agencies to avoid violence and conflict.

The Thai Muslim community under ISOC’s Anti-Narcotics Network, consisting of Islam religious leaders, administrators and educators at Muslim schools, and students, jointly hold a religious Hayat mass for peace in the southern region today.