The next round of peace talks with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) will be postponed indefinitely, the army chief said yesterday.
He was speaking one day after multiple bombing, arson and gun attacks erupted in the deep South.
An agreement to hold talks was signed on Feb 28 in Kuala Lumpur, but the negotiations broke down for good during the Muslim month of Ramadan, when the BRN said it would not talk again with Thailand until the Thai team replied in full to its five demands made last April. (File photo)
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the National Security Council (NSC) had told him the talks, initially set for Oct 20, would have to be put on hold because the NSC was not ready.
On Oct 17, the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) would hold a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Malaysia to discuss the structure of the peace talks and the possibility of inviting more insurgent groups to join them, Gen Prayuth said.
The insurgent movement was pressuring security authorities to use force against them so they could exploit that as an excuse to fight for territorial separation, he said.
Gen Prayuth said the NSC had gained an advantage over the BRN because none of the demands made by the insurgent group had been adopted so far. "If we were not in a better position, they wouldn't have asked to talk to us," he said.
NSC chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said another reason the peace talks would have to be put off was because the NSC wanted to avoid having talks with the BRN with the ninth anniversary of the Tak Bai killings in Narathiwat so close. The anniversary falls on Oct 25.
He said the NSC was concerned the BRN would cite the Tak Bai clash as a lever to impose more demands.
Tuwaedaniya Tuwaemae-ngae, director of the Pattani-based peace group Lembaga Patani Raya Unpuk Kedamaian Dan Pembanguman, yesterday said postponing the next round of talks as well as changes in the BRN negotiation team will hurt the ailing peace process further. Signs of this include a video clip, posted on YouTube last month, featuring supposed Muslim fighters expressing disapproval of the peace talks and the spate of attacks in the four restive provinces on Wednesday, he said.
In Narathiwat, police said about 10 suspects were caught on security camera footage while carrying out attacks on five ATMs in Muang district on Wednesday.
Two suspects were found to have carried out attacks at each spot, said Pol Maj Gen Pattanawuth Angkhanewin, chief of the Narathiwat provincial police.
The security camera footage was sent to an expert who would use a special technique to sharpen the images and better identify the suspects, Pol Maj Gen Pattanawuth said.
In Songkhla, police said they had obtained clear images of the suspects in the three ATM bombings in Thepha, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi districts.
They said the suspects caught on the security footage were dressed in female Muslim outfits and all were wearing headscarves. The police suspect the attackers were in fact men in disguise.
In Pattani, a mobile phone signal transmitter tower was set ablaze yesterday, bringing down TrueMove's mobile phone network, authorities said.
In Yala, police said they believed an insurgent group controlled by Mukta Alimama was behind the bombing attack carried out on Wednesday evening at Ban Bacho in Bannang Sata district.
Three soldiers who normally ensure security for teachers were slightly injured in the explosion.
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