Soldier Killed in Week-Long Siege at Deep South Dam

A Muslim cleric on a boat with security forces on March 17, 2020.
A Muslim cleric on a boat with security forces on March 17, 2020.

YALA — The military on Wednesday said a soldier was killed in a gunfight at a reservoir in Yala province where a group of separatists have been holed up for nearly a week.

The army said Sgt. Maj. 1st Class Seni Pongsombat was killed in the ongoing siege at the reservoir behind Pattani Dam, which began on March 12. Two officers, Sgt. Suparb Takienthong and paramilitary volunteer Kittichai Inthatin, were also injured.

The militants are believed to belong to RKK, one of militant groups behind the secessionist movement in Thailand’s southernmost region, Col. Pramote Phromin, a regional spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) said Tuesday.

“The operation is still ongoing, with troops surrounding the area to pressure the outlaws to lay down arms and turn themselves in,” Col. Watcharakorn On-ngeun, deputy spokesman of ISOC said Wednesday afternoon. “We are acting with endurance, cautiousness, and not taking chances so as to minimize the loss of life on all sides.”

The army said on Tuesday three insurgents were killed in the siege.

Col. Watcharakorn also said that the army had brought Islamic religious leaders to the reservoir by boat to negotiate with the remaining four insurgents via a megaphone. The militants did not give any reply.

Four insurgents are still at large, the officer added.

Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been rocked by waves of separatist attacks since 2004. About 7,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the violence, mostly civilians.

On Tuesday, a bomb attack also injured 20 people at a government office in Yala during a conference on coronavirus protection.

Additional reporting Tappanai Boonbandit

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