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Thai police arrest southern militants

Feb. 19, 2013 at 5:08 PM   |   Comments

BANGKOK, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Militants in southern Thailand have carried out a series of attacks that left a village official dead and a schoolteacher injured, authorities said.

The assaults occurred in Thailand's southern Pattani's Khok Pho district.

Assistant village chief Somsak Surasith, 44, of Moo 4 in Tambon Khok Pho was declared dead at the scene of a drive-by shooting, said Police Col. Suchart Assawachinda, head of the Khok Pho police station.

Witnesses told police that Somak was traveling on a motorcycle on the rural road at Moo 3, Tambon Pa Bon of Khok Pho when a gunman riding pillion on another motorcycle fired at him with a handgun. Somsak was reportedly hit in the head and body.

In the second assault in Khok Pho, school teacher 56-year-old Saman E-so was returning home when a group of men in another vehicle opened fire at him, The Bangkok Post reported Tuesday.

In southern Thailand's Narathiwat's Rueso district, a police and military force raided a site and Thai officers arrested two suspects named in warrants issued for bombings and arson.

The raid was a response to a site in Ban Muelae in Tambon Sawo, reportedly a hideout of RKK militants, led by Repae-ing Useng who took part in an attack on a marine base at Ban Yuelo in Bacho district on Feb. 13.

The Runda Kumpalan Kecilis a terrorist group in operating in southern Thailand's Muslim provinces.

The RKK is not an insubstantial force. On Feb. 13, Thai military forces killed 16 PKK militants during their attack on a military base in Thailand's southern province. The attack was the most deadly since 2005.

"Sixteen militants were confirmed dead after the attack," Thai army commander Capt. Somkiat Pholprayoon said, adding that a combined force of around 100 military and police officers was in "hot pursuit" of the militants, who fled the base after the attack, adding that the military suffered no casualties in the attack.

An active terrorist group in southern Thailand, the RKK is part of the larger Malaysian nationalist-separatist movement.

Muslims in the southern provinces of Thailand and northern Malay provinces, originally part of the Islamic kingdom of Pattani, were divided by an arbitrary border imposed by Britain a century ago, with militants on both sides of frontier seek to reunite the provinces under an independent Islamic regime.

Thailand's current RKK organization is a faction of the Coordinate branch of Malaysian Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Pattani, itself a splinter of the Barisan National Pembebasan Pattani , the original party of southeast Asian Muslim Pattani nationalism.

Thai authorities estimate that the current membership is about 500 but penetrating the organization is made more difficult by the fact that that the RKK is a cell-based organization, largely dependent on a network of religious leaders and teachers for recruitment and indoctrination. The Thai government only acknowledged the RKK in late 2005.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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