The announcement in the Royal Gazette, which was published on Thursday and released yesterday (Nov 8), allows the director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) – Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha – to consider a curfew in Mae Laen district of Pattani; Chana, Saba Yoi, Thepa and Na Thawi in Songkhla; Betong district of Yala, and Sungai Kolok and Sukhirin districts of Narathiwat. It would take effect from Dec 1 this year to Nov 30 next year.
The measure is intended to “prevent, contain, and manage the situation in areas where there are threats to national security in an orderly and effective manner”, the announcement said.
It did not mention any specific cause for the athorisation of expanded powers, but it came just days after an attack at a security checkpoint in Yala that resulted in the deaths of 15 people.
Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng, an Isoc spokesman, was quick to point out that a night-time ban would not be imposed, as the announcement only authorises the agency to do so.
Col Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for the Isoc Region 4 Forward Command, said people should not be panicked by the news.
Neither officer could clarify why the areas chosen were selected for a possible curfew.
The attacks in Muang district of Yala on Tuesday night represented the worst loss of life in the recent history of the troubled area, where more than 7,000 people have died since the insurgency was revived in 2004.
But Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said the announcement was not related to the massacre, noting that Muang district of Yala was not included.
The military on Friday arrested one suspect in connection with the attacks.
The suspect, whose name was withheld, was wearing a black military-style outfit when he was apprehended in Than To district of Yala. He is a native of tambon Pak Lor in Khok Pho district of Pattani, according to Col Pramote.
The suspect has already been transported to the Ingkayut Borihan military camp in Pattani, he said.
Bullets confiscated from the suspect were similar to those used by insurgents in previous cases, authorities said.
They included a gold shop robbery in Na Thawi district in Songkhla province in August, an attack on an Islamic Bank of Thailand ATM at Fatoni University in Pattani, also in August, and the fatal shooting at a defence volunteer checkpoint in tambon Pakaharang in Muang district of Pattani in July.
Col Pramote said that authorities would also investigate whether the suspect is linked to those previous attacks.
Meanwhile, 4th Army Region commander Lt Gen Phonsak Poonsawat told reporters that the attackers belonged to a group with at least 20 members.
“They have repeatedly launched attacks in the restive southern provinces,” he said. “The army is launching a manhunt and will use special laws to bring them to justice. They must be caught, otherwise they will continue their attacks.”
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