Change of tactics is on the card as separatists target officials
Krong Penang and Raman districts of Yala province are the most dangerous areas in the restive Deep South for government officials despite the fact that there is a high concentration of security forces there.
From New Year until August 18, 124 government officials and 89 civilians were killed. Province wise, Narathiwat tops the chart with the highest number of violent incidents – 431 incidents and 82 fatalities, including 44 officials and 38 civilians and 194 injured. Pattani is second with 335 incidents and 89 deaths, including 50 officials and 39 civilians and 168 injured. Yala comes third with 257 incidents and 54 deaths, including 21 civilians and 33 officials and 172 injured. One official died and 16 injured, including eight officials in Songkhla’s four districts.
Most of the violent incidents occurred on roads frequented by security officials in their routine performance of duties which included road patrolling, providing protection to teachers while travelling between schools and homes and vice versa and providing safety at schools and roadside shelters.
That Krong Penang and Raman districts are most dangerous for government officials despite the fact that there is a paramilitary ranger’s camp, Wang Phya, in Raman district are indicative that the insurgents have high capability of moving and operating rather freely, said security sources.
The sources noted that the separatists had shifted their target of attacks to government officials, specially members of the security forces, since the start of the peace talks process between the government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional separatist group. The shift of the target from civilians and government officials is clearly reflected in the rise of casualties among the officials compared to those of the civilians.
For example on three running days from September 10-12, 11 police, troops and paramilitary rangers were killed by suspected separatists.
The increased attacks on security forces seem to correspond with the escalation of operations against the separatists, the sources pointed out.
However, the sources said that the increased casualties among officials are a matter of serious concern that necessitates adjustment of tactics to reduce the casualties and also to correspond with the ongoing peace talks.
The painting of red, yellow and green in villages on the map in accordance with separatists’ activities in the areas may need to be overhauled to reflect the changes of circumstances, said the sources.