Leading RKK insurgent among five killed in Yala firefight

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YALA, April 20 – One of the five believed-to-be insurgents shot dead in a gunfight with security personnel in this southern border province on Thursday has been identified as an operational-level leader of the separatist group Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), a man having seven outstanding arrest warrants including the ambush shooting of passengers on a public van which killed eight persons in 2007, according to a police official.

Assistant Police Chief Pol Lt-Gen Peera Poompichet said on Friday that the leading RKK member identified as Sakuree Japakeeya was allegedly involved in attacking a police station in Yala’s Yaha district in 2006 and bombing paramilitary rangers in 2008.

The senior police official spoke after a combined force of police, soldiers and government workers raided a village in Krongpinang district believed to be hiding 14 insurgents on Thursday.

Nine men who escaped have been identified and police are now hunting them, Gen Peera said.

The raid was led by Yala provincial police commander Pol Maj Gen Peera Boonliang in response to intelligence reports that Mr Sakuree and companions were to meet and plan an attack.

Gen Peera said an M-16 assault rifle, a shotgun, .38 caliber pistol, 80 cartridges and five mobile telephones were seized at the site.

He said an investigation is underway to determine whether or not Mr Sakuree involved with the bombing which killed Pol Col Sompian Eksomya, Bannang Sata police chief widely recognised for his dedicated service in the restive southern border province.