Bangkok - Thai intelligent officials believe that the coordinated terror attacks that rocked Yala province on July 14 – and provided the Thaksin government with an excuse to introduce emergency rule in the deep South – were planned in the bordering Malaysian state of Kelantan.
Between 7.10pm and 8.15pm on that day, Yala's Muang district was a chaotic scene of power blackouts, five explosions, four arson attacks and several other incidents including the discovery of fake bombs, armed insurgents waylaying police and road spikes being scattered about to impede pursuit. Two police officers were killed and at least 17 others injured in the attacks.
The Nation, quoting intelligence findings by Thailand's Special Branch, said the attacks were planned at a June 28 meeting in Kelantan and carried out by around 60 people who were paid 10,000 baht for every person they killed.
The alleged masterminds behind the Yala attacks included Sapaeing Basoe, a 67-year-old former headmaster-turned-fugitive; and Masae Useng, an alleged member of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, a militant separatist organisation which has split into different factions.
The terrorists' alleged choice of Kelantan as a venue for their meeting is not surprising since the heavily-patrolled border is very porous, allowing locals to cross the border with ease.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has blamed Malaysia for turning a blind eye to Thai militants, some of whom have dual nationality – a charge which Kuala Lumpur has rejected. The absence of an extradition treaty also makes it hard for Malaysia to hand over detainees to Thailand.
Officials believe that the attackers are out to heighten a culture of fear that spawns mistrust between the Muslims and the minority Buddhists in the area.
* Bombing in Yala ‘planned in Kelantan’ (The Straits Times, July 17)
* Yala attacks: 60 believed to have taken part (The Nation, July 16)