October 19, 2012
Residents of Pattani's Yaring District are pleading with separatist insurgents to end their terror attacks, while the son of a security volunteer slain in a recent attack says he is willing to forgive his father's assassins if they reintegrate into society and become "good people".
Suspected insurgents in a gold Toyota Vigo pickup with no licence plates shot and killed three government volunteer security force members on their way home from a policy meeting at noon on October 8th. Three assailants armed with automatic assault weapons took part in the attack.
They fired on the security volunteers' pickup as it passed their vehicle on the right. After the truck stopped, the attackers pulled all three men from the vehicle and shot them multiple times in the head before stealing their automatic weapons and fleeing the scene.
The deceased are Somsak Khunchum, 42; Surasak Suksongmuang, 27; and Num Suksongmuang, 57. All three men were given a state cremation ceremony October 18th.
Ready to forgive
With tears in his eyes, Somsak's 14-year-old son told Khabar Southeast Asia he was ready to forgive his father's killers – but only if they are willing to join mainstream society.
Holding his deceased father's hand at the start of the bathing rites ceremony at Pa Sri Temple, Pongsakorn Khunchum said, "I want to be a policeman when I grow up because I would like to help the people and my country find peace. After this, I will pay more attention in class and study hard to pass all the tests so I can be a policeman in the future.
"For all the insurgents who killed my father, I will forgive them if they turn back to be good people and reconcile (with society) without resentment," he said.
"However, I would like to tell my late father's spirit if he can hear my words, that I will take care of my mom and my 9-year-old sister. Don't worry, I will do my best. I want your soul to be at peace, not concerned with anything."
"We are not your enemy"
Just one in a spate of similar attacks in the region in recent weeks, the ambush has left Pattani's predominantly Muslim inhabitants fearful and confused.
Local resident Rawhana Sidah told Khabar the recent upsurge in violence is disappointing following the optimism generated by a recent discussion between the Thai military and some 100 insurgents who said they were prepared to begin peace talks.
"Even though some members of the insurgency movement have reportedly come out wanting to (surrender and) work together for national development-- especially in these three southernmost border provinces-- violent attacks continue," Rawhana said. "Hardly a day goes by without some government officer being killed now."I am very confused by what is happening here; who are we fighting against? What group do they belong to?
Rawhana said normal people cannot go about their lives as they once did, such as the use of intimidation to prevent them from conducting trade on Fridays. She said she has no idea what the future holds or what degree of protection they can expect from government officials.
"For this reason I am pleading with the insurgents to cease attacks, especially those in which unarmed, innocent civilians are targeted," Rawhana said. "We are not your enemy. We are unarmed and just want to get on with our livelihoods."
Pattani Governor Pramuk Lamun told Khabar, "Even though the violence in the area continues, all of the officers continue to perform their duties admirably."