Thursday December 10, 2009
NARATHIWAT: A flurry of bomb attacks in the southern region did not deter Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak from jointly opening and renaming a bridge in Narathiwat yesterday.
The two leaders arrived by helicopter in Waeng district to commemorate the Thai-Malaysia Friendship Bridge over Sungai Golok, a natural boundary that cuts through a Malay-speaking region where many people on both sides are relatives.
The visit was billed as a model of how the two neighbouring countries, inspite of security challenges along their common border, can cooperate.
The trip was part of Najib’s three-day official visit to the country, his first as Malaysia’s prime minister.
Thousands of security forces and bomb squads were despatched to provide security for the delegations but militants on the ground carried out bomb attacks in other parts of this violence-plagued region.
In the latest violence, four bombs went off in Yala’s provincial town yesterday morning.
One was a twin bomb blast that killed a forensic police officer, with three security officials wounded in twin bomb blasts by a riverbank in Yala’s provincial town.
Earlier, two Thai marines were wounded in a bomb and gun attack in Narathiwat as they tried to collect banners criticising Abhisit’s policies in the south.
A series of banners posted throughout the three provinces read: “Patani sebahagian daripada Malaysia” (Patani is part of Malaysia).
“It could be anybody with an intention to irritate the delegations,” Thai Senator Worawit Baru said when asked who he thought were behind such statements.
Worawit pointed out that militants on the ground often spray-painted the word “Patani Merdeka”, which meant “Free Patani”, on the roads and streets.
Another roadside bomb wounded two troops and a policeman assigned to a security detail for teachers in Yala.
On Tuesday, a bomb killed a soldier and wounded another on a Narathiwat road where Abhisit and Najib were scheduled to pass through.
The second soldier died in the hospital.
Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor returned yesterday evening.
Najib was earlier in Bangkok for the annual consultation between both countries. — Asian News Network