Thai security official asserts peace talks unrelated to attacks in South

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BANGKOK, May 2 – A top Thai security official today categorically denied that the current spate of violent attacks in the country’s far South are reprisals against the government’s peace talks with Muslim insurgent groups

National Security Council (NSC) secretary general Paradorn Pattanatabut said the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the key militant movement in peace dialogues with the Thai authorities, was not involved in the violence.

The Thai authorities have yet to identify the four gunmen who fired into a grocery store in Pattani on Wednesday, killing six people including a three-year-old boy.

Lt Gen Paradorn said the assailants could be young extremists who have used similar weapons in the past 19 attacks.

The NSC chief reported results of Monday’s peace talks in Kuala Lumpur to a meeting today on national security, chaired by the prime minister.

The army was reportedly dissatisfied with the BRN’s five-point demand but Gen Paradorn said the army wanted the peace talks to continue.

“We can suspend the peace talks if they obstructed the army’s operations in the South,” he said.

Opposition Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the NSC to listen to feedback and reservations from various quarters in its peace negotiations with the BRN, saying violence in the far South should not be overlooked.

The government’s security agency must find out from the BRN why the southern violence continues, he said, indicating that certain groups of Muslim militants have been trying to upgrade the southern violence into an international issue.