Thai Security Forces Kill 2 Suspected Southern Insurgents at Beach Resort

Mariyam Ahmad
Pattani, Thailand
2021-06-21
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Thai Security Forces Kill 2 Suspected Southern Insurgents at Beach Resort Military personnel are seen at a seaside hotel in Yaring district in southern Thailand’s Pattani province, during a standoff with two suspected separatist insurgents, June 21, 2021.
[BenarNews]

Thai security forces gunned down two suspected insurgents during a shootout at a beach resort in the Deep South on Monday, saying they were wanted in connection with the killings of three family members by rebels in a roadside ambush.

Monday’s killings brought to six the number of suspected separatist Malay Muslim rebels slain by government personnel since late April in Thailand’s troubled southern border region, with one analyst remarking that the rebels were now “clearly on their back foot.”

The two suspects were hiding out at the Awada Resort in Yaring, a district of Pattani province when security forces raided the seaside hotel at 3 a.m. to capture the pair, authorities said.

“Security forces surrounded the resort but they resisted, so we asked religious and local leaders to help negotiate their surrender,” said Maj. Gen. Komkrit Rattanachaya, commander of the Pattani Task Force. 

“They opened fire [and we were in a] stand off for hours. So we returned fire, resulting in two deaths.”

The two suspects were identified as Amran Mahile, 29, and Aduere Manputeh, 32, Komkrit said.

The standoff lasted till around 10 a.m., when government forces cleared the site after the suspects were killed.

“They were in the same group of attackers who killed a businessman, his daughter and nephew in Pattani’s Sai Buri [district] on April 24,” Komkrit said.

“They are key insurgent members with criminal records and we were looking for them.”

Amran’s uncle, who was not at the scene, said his family was aware that his nephew was wanted by the police.

“He left home a long time ago and police were after him,” the uncle, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told BenarNews over the phone.

The victims in the April attack were a businessman, Suporn Kittiprapanan, 58; his daughter Jiraporn, 26; and his nephew Santipattana Kittiprapanan, also 26. The relatives were traveling from Had Yai district in Songkhla province to Narathiwat province to deliver foam and plastic products when suspected rebels attacked them on a highway in Sai Buri, a district of Pattani, police said.

Four men on two motorbikes kept firing at the victims’ pickup truck until it swerved into a ditch, police said.

Jinaporn died in the truck, which the assailants set on fire, Suporn was dragged out of the truck and shot dead, and Santipattana died as he was being transported to a hospital.

Officials claimed then that the gruesome attack was in retaliation for the killing of a suspected insurgent and the arrest of two others in Narathiwat two days earlier.

Conflict will continue to ‘smolder’

According to statistics recorded by the police in the Deep South, insurgent-related violence dropped to six incidents in May from 19 in April.

The Deep South encompasses Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala provinces and four districts of Songkhla. It has been the flash point of armed conflict between government troops and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (the National Revolutionary Front or BRN), Thailand’s largest separatist insurgent group, over several decades.

“The violence in the Deep South remains at amongst the lowest levels since 2004,” said Zachary Abuza, a Deep South security expert based in Washington who contributes columns to BenarNews.

“The insurgents are clearly on their back foot. Attacks against civilians do occur, but they are infrequent, a fraction of what they were at the height of the insurgency. If militants do initiate attacks, it’s usually against security forces,” Abuza, a professor at the National War College and an adjunct at Georgetown University, told BenarNews via email.

Still, the conflict in the Deep South will continue to “smolder,” he said, citing the Thai government’s reluctance to address the core political grievances of the border region’s predominantly Muslim Pattani Malay community as among the reasons.

Since the decades-old insurgency reignited in January 2004, more than 7,000 people have been killed in the region, according to Deep South Watch, a think-tank based in Pattani.

Face-to-face peace talks between Thailand and the BRN have been stalled since March last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but both sides said they continued to meet online at technical-level panels, with Malaysia serving as facilitator.

The last virtual meeting was held in February, Abdul Rahim Noor, the Malaysian broker of talks between the Thai government and the rebels, confirmed to BenarNews at the time.

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