Thai military steps up security in violence-hit provinces


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 07 Jan 2004

KANGAR: The Thai military and police have tightened security along access roads from the violence-hit provinces to Songkhla, the popular tourist destination is not expected to be affected, said Thai Police Region 9 Deputy Commissioner Maj-Gen Somchai Petchsuwan. 

“There is no need to impose martial law in Songkhla unless the security situation changes. Tourists can come but they should exercise caution if they need to go to Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.” 

Somchai, when contacted, also said that not the entire provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat or Yala were placed under martial law but stressed that the Thai military was stepping up operations to gain total control over the three provinces. 

Six districts in Narathiwat, three in Yala and four in Pattani were placed under martial law until further notice. 

A spokesman of the Malaysian consulate-general office in Songkhla urged citizens to refrain from entering the three provinces unless they had urgent matters to settle. 

An estimated 200 Malaysian students between the ages of 18 and 25 are studying in religious schools or pondok in the three provinces. 

Their families should not be unduly worried as there had been no reports of Malaysians being caught in the crossfire between the bandits and security forces, the spokesman said. 

A Thai television news station managed to record the bomb blast which killed two Thai police bomb disposal experts in Pattani on Monday. 

This clip was aired several times and was reproduced in the front page of Thai dailies. It showed the two men defusing the bomb when it exploded. 

In Penang, a check showed that Penangites are still going to Haadyai, Songkhla and Phuket, among others. 

Harpers Travel Sdn Bhd sales and tour manager Chanet Ham said the company had been overbooked for its Haadyai trips with a long waiting list of people wanting to fly there especially during Chinese New Year. 

“Haadyai is not affected as it is some 150km away from the three southern provinces,” she said yesterday.  

Berbudi Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd director S.K. Chew said he did not receive any cancellations for his “Holiday on Wheels” bookings to various parts of Thailand. 

Sin-Pen Travel Service Sdn Bhd director Goh Eng Boon said his company had taken a group of 25 Indonesian tourists to Haadyai on Monday.  

Boustead Travel Services Sdn Bhd, Happy Holidays Sdn Bhd and Newsia Tours & Travel (Pg) Sdn Bhd also did not record any cancellations for their tours to Haadyai or other parts of Thailand.  

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