Khabar Southeast Asia

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Bomb spree rocks Yala

By Ahmad Ramansiriwong in Yala and Samila Naranode in Songkhla

April 15, 2014

Yala Municipality anticipates it will take two weeks to clean up after insurgents unleashed a series of bomb attacks April 6th and 7th. [Ahmad Ramansiriwong/Khabar]

Yala Municipality anticipates it will take two weeks to clean up after insurgents unleashed a series of bomb attacks April 6th and 7th. [Ahmad Ramansiriwong/Khabar]

Daleng Jehbu, a Muslim resident of Pattani's Yaring district, took his wife and daughter to Yala Town April 6th for some shopping. The innocent outing ended in the hospital.

The family was caught in a wave of eight explosions that rocked the city, including a car bomb that demolished several buildings.

"I was on my way home when I heard the deafening sound of an explosion. It was so loud; I knew we had been hit. I looked over at my wife and then to my child, who was bleeding," Daleng told Khabar Southeast Asia.

"So I pulled the car over immediately and got out. When I did, I noticed the car had been damaged by the blast – the tires were blown out, the windows smashed in. I focused on helping my family and others who had been wounded," he said. "When we got to Yala Hospital, my head was spinning. It was only then that I realized that I too had been injured in the blast."

Hit by shrapnel from the car bomb, Daleng was one of 28 people injured in the attacks which also killed one. Daleng says he is still in shock.

"Even though everyone in this region lives in constant fear of such attacks, we never really think that we or our families will become victims," he said. "The region is dangerous and it is difficult to live here. We have to be careful wherever we go.

"We have been living in fear like this for ten years now and nothing has changed; innocent civilians continue to be injured and killed in the violence. Everyone is at risk. Everyone is a potential victim. Everyone suffers."

Mounting losses, unclear motives

An initial assessment by Yala Municipality estimated property damage from the April 6th and 7th attacks at more than Bt. 150m ($4.7m).

Residents and municipal workers are busy cleaning up the town, with most damage expected to be cleared within two weeks, according to city officials.

Experts unsure of the motive behind the attacks are concerned by the recent upswing in violence.

"We can see a clear increase in the number of attacks in the early months of 2014 compared to 2013," said Kothom Areeya, director of the Research Centre for Peace Building at Bangkok's Mahidol University.

"There are two possibilities to consider. It may be that some parties are opposed to talks and are carrying out attacks as a way to demonstrate their own power," he said. "Another possibility is that they are being carried out by parties who agree with the talks, but who are acting out against the government's refusal to give in to the five demands put forward by the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional)."

Southern Border Provinces Community Association Assistant Director Mansour Salleh told Khabar the time elapsed since November 2012-- the last major bombings in the city-- may have led government forces to ease security measures.

"Authorities had become less strict than they should have been and the insurgents took advantage in perpetrating these incidents. Many people in the area are saying this," he said.

"In the area where there were a lot of injuries, it was actually inside the one-way street system that was set up for security purposes after the previous bombings. So there was a security checkpoint and single exit, but the officers were not manning it strictly."

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