Bomb explodes in Narathiwat; school set ablaze

The Nation, April 19, 2012

A school in Narathiwat province was set ablaze on Wednesday night while a bomb targeting government personnel exploded nearby, though no injuries were reported.

The school was set fire on the eve of Deputy PM Yuthasak Sasiprapha’s and Army chief General Prayuth Chanocha’s visit.

The twostorey Ban Ta Ngo School was set ablaze at a time when volunteers guarding the school went for their prayers. Initial investigation found traces of gasoline in a classroom.

About 300 metres from the school, an explosive placed inside a 20kilogram fire extinguisher was set off by remote control. It is believed this bomb was targeted at the response team.

Pol Colonel Prayong Khotsakha, superintendent of the Cho Ai Rong police station, led a team of 30 police officers and soldiers in three pickup trucks to inspect the scene. A group of attackers, believed to have been hiding in a rubber plantation, detonated the bomb when the vehicles passed.

Police suspect that insurgents had set fire to the school in a move to ambush the response team. It is believed that this was in retaliation of their crackdown.

Yuthasak and Prayuth will be visiting the violenceplagued deep South day. Before heading off, General Prayuth said he would check up on local authorities’ operations to ensure that their implementation of government policies is in line with the strategies of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).

With the 8th anniversary of the Krue Se incident on April 28 drawing near, the army chief said he ordered tight security with checkpoints being set up by all units. Intelligence work has been increased and efforts are being made to reduce public misunderstanding.

Both officials first visited a military camp in Pattani to review operations there and to be told about progress on the investigations of the March 31 car bombings in Yala and Hat Yai districts.

While local intelligence reports say that the number of attacks have dropped, the authorities need to remain vigilant because they are not getting full cooperation from local residents, the army chief said.

“I have ordered officials to work hard and they are now implementing policies as directed by governmentappointed committees to tackle the violence,” Prayuth said.