By PNA / Xinhua and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The Thai government has beefed up security measures and is considering deploying new military tactics across its restive southernmost region.
This followed a surge of violent attacks which killed three people and injured at least 10, a senior official said Thursday.
Security officials in the southern Songkhla province were on high alert as intelligence sources informed that the province’s Hat Yai district could be targeted for an attack.
Three key leaders of the insurgent group Runda Kumpulan Kecil allegedly involved in the car bombing at the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Hat Yai earlier this year were preparing attacks in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, according to the sources.
Both Hat Yai and the provincial seat are being specially monitored to prevent such incidents.
The security situation in the far South has been deteriorating over the past several days.
Three people were killed and four others injured in two separate drive-by shootings in Pattani early Wednesday.
Only hours before the attacks, a car-bomb exploded behind a hotel in downtown Pattani, disrupting an adjacent power station and causing a blackout in wide areas of the municipality. Several people were reportedly injured.
Seven business districts in the far south have been given security boost to the “maximum level”.
But it is also feared that that the insurgent movement may shift their target from the business zone to government offices to threaten officials.
Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat suggested that new military tactics and heightened security measured would be deployed in the region, including armed aerial reconnaissance.
He implied that imposing curfews would also be an option in areas where the insurgents operated to minimize night-time attacks and limit their movements.
The cabinet Tuesday approved a budget of 391 million baht ( 12.4 million U.S. dollars) to cover allowances, supplies and logistical support for military personnel based in the far south.
Meanwhile, a special operations center has been set up to coordinate and oversee efforts to bring peace to the region plagued by violence.
More than 5,000 people have been killed and over 8,400 injured since 2004 in over 10,000 violent attacks instigated by the region ‘s separatist insurgents, according to Deep South Watch, an agency which monitors the conflict in the southernmost provinces.
Sources in the far south claimed that security authorities do not know the actual scope of insurgency in the region.
The number of militants there is estimated at 8,000 to 10,000.