‘I’ve always said that there are no bad troops, only bad commanders. During the past 5 months, there have been 3 car bombs in Narathiwat. The provincial police commander must take responsibility. Between 2005 and 2008, the situation was under control, but why it is not now? Police commanders cannot stay aloof. They have to stay on the ground, cordoning off areas, attacking and going in. From now on, I will follow this up myself,’ said Pol Gen Adul Sangsingkaew, Deputy Police Chief in charge of handling the unrest in the Southern border areas.
He was speaking on 13 Mar 2011 at a police meeting on a recent car bomb which exploded at police quarters in Narathiwat’s Si Sakhon District.
‘Under the current situation, the number of actors [insurgents] has decreased, but it will get more violent. The Southern Border Provinces Police Operations Centre must cut out car bombings. It must keep an eye on second-hand car sales grounds, garages that do conversions, and sources of gun powder, and cut the cycle. [You] cannot cut it by staying idle. The superior officers just don’t do it. Praying cannot solve the problem. The SBPPOC has to make a move to get rid of car bombs,’ Pol Gen Adul said.
Pol Maj Gen Chaithat Inthanujit was immediately relieved of his post as Commander of Narathiwat Provincial Police after the car bomb went off at the Si Sakhon police quarters on 7 March this year.
On 25 Oct 2010, marking the 6th anniversary of the Tak Bai massacre, insurgents planted at least 26 landmines in rubber plantations in the three southern border provinces, and 17 of them went off, mutilating 16 officers and local people.
‘It is not difficult to make this kind of landmine. Each one costs less than 30 baht. Just buy a PVC pipe, close one end, stuff in gunpowder, install a switch like a light bulb switch, and plant it. When it’s stepped on, it goes off. It’s very simple. The question is why it cannot be prevented,’ a former police officer who used to work on bombings in the south told Isra News.
He said that these landmines were all made from locally available materials, whose sources should not be hard to track.
‘The PVC pipes which the insurgents have used are of the same type and brand, meaning that they must have bought them in big lots and cut them into smaller pieces. We should be able to check where they bought them from. How many big local shops selling construction materials are there, and which one has sold or ordered a lot of these pipes? I’ve told [the police] over and over about this, but no one has done anything,’ he said.
It seems that what so angered the Deputy Police Chief about the car bomb is the same problem which has persisted in the landmine case.
Less than three months into 2011, there have been three car bombs: on 7 Mar, at the police living quarters at Si Sakhon Police Station, Narathiwat, claiming no injuries but damaging dozens of cars; on 19 Feb, in an area of karaoke shops in downtown Narathiwat, injuring 19; and on 13 Feb, in a business area in Yala town, injuring 18 and burning down over 10 old wooden row houses.
On 21 Feb, a motorcycle bomb was detonated near a department store in downtown Yala, about 300 meters from where the car bomb exploded on 13 Feb, killing one and injuring 14.
On 29 Dec last year, a car bomb exploded in front of the Highway Authority Office in Bacho District, Narathiwat, 150 metres from the district police station, injuring 4.
On 1 Jan this year, a bomb went off at Paluru Subdistrict, Su-ngai Padi District, Narathiwat, killing a bomb disposal officer from the Border Patrol Police and a local policeman, and injuring 9 village defence volunteers and local people.
During the 7 years of the southern unrest, there have been 24 car bombs, mostly in Narathiwat, which has had 16, according to the police’s Bomb Data Centre.