Islamic violence in Thailand intensifies as RAMADAN nears end

Islamic VIOLENCE continued in the deep South yesterday, despite the authorities stepping up security for the last 10 days of Ramadan.

At least two people died in Pattani, one of the four southern provinces, when explosives hidden inside a parked motorcycle went off at a flea market in late afternoon.

A 14-year-old boy and a woman were killed on the spot and sources said nine others were also injured in the incident, which occurred at the Bo Thong Market in Nong Chik district.

Deemed the holiest period of the year by Muslims, Ramadan this year runs from May 7 to June 5.

Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4’s Forward Command, revealed yesterday that the Fourth Army Area’s chief, Lt-General Pornsak Pulsawas, had ordered stricter security measures for the last 10 days of Ramadan in the hope of thwarting efforts by insurgents.

“Some insurgents wrongly believe that causing trouble in the holy month will give them more merit points,” Pramote said.

In another, earlier incident, unknown gunmen opened fire as security officials scoured Ban Tanyong in Yala’s Yaha district yesterday morning.

An exchange of gunfire followed, which as of press time was still going on and one official was reported to have been injured.

There were no reports from the insurgents’ side.

Insurgents suspected

Police now suspect that the fatal bomb attack that rocked Chana district railway station in Songkhla on Sunday was also related to insurgents’ desire to cause violence before the end of Ramadan.

The blast killed Pol Senior Sergeant Kosol Kongsawas and injured three of his colleagues, as well as a woman.

The injured were yesterday reported to be out of danger.

Deputy Songkhla Governor Rachit Sudpum visited the |victims at Songklanagarind Hospital to hand them gift baskets from His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Rachid also took a wreath from the King to Kosol’s funeral.

National Police Commissioner General Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda has instructed police agencies in the southern border provinces to step up security in community areas, tourist destinations and government offices in order to prevent casualties from increasing unrest.

Police have now increased the frequency of their patrols in business and community areas in the run-up to Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

In Narathiwat on Saturday, two pillion riders on separate motorcycles fired seven shots and killed paramilitary rangers

Somchai Chernchompu and Muhamad-sawan Masae in Ban Buenae Peeyae, Tambon Palu Kasamoh