Landmine blasts on Monday killed a soldier and injured six police officers and four civilians in Thailand’s deep south, including a farmer who lost both her legs in the double attack at a rubber plantation, authorities said. .
About an hour after the first early morning blast in Sungai Padi, a district of Narathiwat province, a second landmine exploded as members of a clearance team scoured the plantation in response to the earlier blast. The explosion killed one soldier and injured at least six police officers. The officers’ injuries were not life-threatening, officials said.
Thai officials and residents also said rubber producer Prathum Nakthong, 55, was seriously injured in the first blast when she stepped on a landmine about 500 meters from her home in Kok Ko, Thailand. one of the communities of Tambon To Deng, a group of villages in the district.
“Ms. Prathum injured both legs while stepping on a landmine planted under the ground in her rubber plantation. She had just finished her work and was returning home,” Captain Panuwat Saidanil, an investigator from the police in Sungai Padi.
In photos released by authorities, a Buddhist monk and other neighbors could be seen helping the injured woman and carrying her as she was taken to a local hospital.
On Monday evening (local time), hospital officials told BenarNews that she remained in serious condition.
sergeant. Somchai Daeng-ngern, a soldier who accompanied a bomb squad searching for and defusing landmines in the plantation, was killed instantly in the second blast, officials said.
“[They] were walking to explore the area when another [landmine] exploded about 300 meters from the site of the first explosion, killing one soldier and injuring many others,” said Police Lt. Col. Wasant Panpoth, crime suppression officer at Sungai Padi station.
Monday’s attack was the third deadly incident Thai authorities blamed on rebels in less than two weeks since Thai government negotiators and representatives of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the main rebel group in the Deep South, held their latest series of -person peace talks brokered by Malaysia near Kuala Lumpur.
During the final round, the Thai side asked the BRN to agree to a pause in violence that would cover much of the Buddhist Lent, officials told BenarNews at the time. The start of the 108-day truce would have fallen on Monday.
After the attack, a Buddhist rights activist called on security forces to protect Buddhist residents who form a religious minority in the Deep South.
“So the only way to be safe is to leave their house and leave Tambon To Deng?” ISOC, please respond,” said Busayama Isdul, referring to the Internal Security Operations Command, the southern region military command.
“We Buddhist Thais want to be protected and taken care of. Such an attack is not the first time,” she told BenarNews.
The Greater Thai South encompasses the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla province. Over 80% of the population are Malay-speaking Muslims, with the rest being Buddhists.
The suspected attack by separatist insurgents in Sungai Padi recalls a series of landmine explosions in 2018 that injured several farmers over the course of eight days in rubber plantations in the neighboring province of Yala, and which the authorities attributed to the rebels. The rubber industry is one of the main economic drivers of Thailand’s deeply impoverished southern border region.
BRN and PULO, another rebel group that has been blamed for some recent attacks, did not immediately respond to BenarNews’ requests for comment on Monday’s landmine explosions.
A Thai Defense Ministry spokesman, meanwhile, said authorities were pursuing the attackers, accusing the insurgents of increasing violence since last talks ended in early August.
“There was more violence – an ambush and bombings – killing at least five people and injuring seven others. There was an ambush on a train. [Such incidents] continuously caused a climate of fear,” Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanich, the spokesman, told reporters.
“The Prime Minister has ordered the forces to catch the attackers as soon as possible.”