PATTANI — Four security officers in Pattani province were injured by a bomb that appeared to be planted in revenge for the the military raid that killed four civilians last month.
The explosive detonated on the side of Mayor – Thung Yang Daeng Road when a military vehicle drove by this morning, slightly injuring two soldiers and two paramilitary rangers who were riding in the truck. Two more unexploded IEDs were found near the site, police say.
A sign hung by the entrace of To Chud village, found by police on 24 April 2015.
The blast took place less than 30 minutes after police found a banner in nearby To Chud village that vowed to avenge the killing of four men by security officers in the village on 25 March.
The banner, hung near the village's entrance, read: "The four dead of To Chud will not die in vain."
The four men, in their early twenties and thirties, were shot dead by security officers during a raid that the military said was an attempt to arrest insurgents who were planning to stage attacks against the authorities in the region. The military initially told the media the four victims were armed militants who opened fire on security officers, prompting the officers to shoot back.
However, an independent committee ruled on 6 April that the four men were not related to the ongoing Islamic insurgency in the region, or armed when the raid took place, citing forensic evidence and witnesses' testimonies.
Lt.Gen. Prakarn Chollayuth, the army commander who oversees Pattani and its neighboring provinces, accepted the committee's finding and publicly apologized for the incident the following day.
The bloody secessionist movement is waged by a shadowy network of Islamic insurgents and has gripped Thailand’s southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat for the past decade, claiming the lives of more than 6,000 people.
Although most have died in bomb attacks and shootings staged by insurgent groups, Thai authorities have also been criticized for using excessive violence and violating human rights in their effort to combat the secessionist movement.
At least two other violent incidents took place in the region this morning, police say. Four civilians were injured by a roadside bomb in Narathiwat province, and two gunmen on a motorcycle fired at least 16 shots with an assault rifle at the residence of a deputy village chief in Songkhla province, police say. The shots broke the house's windows and damaged a car, but no one was injured.
Police believe both incidents are related to the southern insurgency.
Raid commander transferred
Yesterday, Col. Pramote Prom-in, spokesperson of a counter-insurgency unit, said the director of 41st Ranger Regiment and his deputy have been transferred because of their roles in the deadly raid on To Chud, which was led by 41st Ranger Regiment and supported by soldiers and police officers.
Four soldiers and three police officers have also been charged with murder for the incident, the commander of the Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Center said yesterday, contradicting initial reports that all seven of the officers charged in connection with the raid were soldiers.
According to Pol.Maj.Gen. Anurut Kritsanakaraket, three soldiers and three police officers reported to the police on 20 April and were formally charged with murder, which carries a maximum penalty of execution.
The six suspects, who Pol.Maj.Gen. Anurut declined to identify by name, were released after they heard their charges.
Human rights activists have criticized the impunity granted to most security officers responsible for violence in the southern border-provinces, a region known as the Deep South.