Authorities are weighing up factors behind the attack including linking the government’s stance on peace talks.
The bomb, hidden in a motorcycle, exploded on Tuesday morning (Sept 6) when Mayeng Wohbah parked his motorcycle to drop off his five-year-old daughter Mitra at Baan Taba School in tambon Che He of Tak Bai district.
They were killed at the scene while Talmeesee Madao, 22, a street vendor who suffered serious injuries, was pronounced dead at Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Hospital.
And Tuesday’s motorcycle bomb not only took the lives of Mayeng and Mitra. It left six-year-old Masan, Mitra’s brother, an orphan. The already desperately poor schoolboy faces hardship no child should have to endure.
Four police officers and five other civilians were also injured in the blast. Six others, including a young boy, were taken to Tak Bai Hospital.
The Office of the Chularatchamontri, Thailand’s most senior Muslim leader, issued a statement yesterday (Sept 7) condemning the bombing as inhumane, saying such a cruel act was against the religious teachings of Islam.
The office has urged the public to unite and oppose violence against innocent civilians, and for the state to take remedial measures to help the families of the victims and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The office also called for stepped up security in public areas.
More than 500 Islamic religious leaders, local officials, teachers, schoolchildren and local residents attended prayers held yesterday at Baan Taba School in memory of those killed in the blast.
After the prayers, they paraded through the community and called on local residents to join in condemning the attack.
Meanwhile, New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement suggesting that “to help protect children in Thailand’s armed conflict, the UN secretary-general should immediately put the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN)-Coordinate on the list of abusers”.
This year’s United Nations secretary-general’s report on children caught up in armed conflict noted the unlawful attacks in the southernmost provinces, but did not specifically list the BRN-Coordinate as an abuser.
“Once a party to an armed conflict is placed on this list, it triggers an increased response from the UN – including intensified engagement by UN agencies in the affected country and potential Security Council sanctions,” said the HRW statement.
Similarly, the Cross Cultural Foundation has also condemned the attacks against the venue protected under the “laws of war”, also known as international humanitarian law, which prohibits attacks on civilians and civilian objects or attacks that fail to discriminate between combatants and civilians.
Col Pramot Promin, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command’s (Isoc) Forward Command, told the Bangkok Post yesterday that the security forces took note of the statements of concern issued by the NGOs but wondered why such dubious terminologies were used.
“What we would like to see in the aftermath is society understanding that these inhumane attacks are deplorable. The perpetrators have violated Thai laws, and we will deal with them with our laws accordingly,” said Col Pramot in a telephone interview.
He cautioned that people should not be trapped in the discourse woven by non-governmental organisations that could internationalise internal issues.
“It could be a sensitive issue if international hands are dragged in, we must be careful not to allow such a condition that could upgrade or uplift the status of the insurgent groups,” the spokesman said.
Tak Bai students joined a mosque-led demonstration yesterday condemning the bombing and demanding an end to violence. Protests against Tuesday’s deadly bomb by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) supporters or their separatist allies now have spread worldwide. Isoc condemned the attack as inhumane.
Its spokesman Col Peerawat Saengthong said the southern violence is a multi-dimensional problem involving not only separatist groups, but also networks operating in illicit activities, criminals, and drug traffickers.
Col Peerawat said that while the Isoc’s operations to restore peace and safety in the deep South had begun to pay off, insurgent groups have recently been trying to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence against weak targets such as hospitals, hotels, schools and rail routes.
The recent spate of violence has shown that those involved are inhumane and they are bent on doing all they can to strike fear so residents cannot live normal lives, Col Peerawat said.
A BRN-sympathetic activist from Narathiwat province who asked not to be named said the negative impacts of the BRN’s change in attack targets have already been discussed periodically within the clandestine movement.
“After all, it’s not the first time that soft targets, such as children, have been the victims. The BRN must also learn to adjust to be more politically appealing to the people,” said the former Muslim student leader.
However, he noted that local residents, though not happy with the civilian deaths, would eventually blame the heavy military presence in the region.
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