|ชื่อเรื่อง||Deep South: Army wants peace talks but unsure who with|
|เนื้อหา||The army chief's plan to seek talks with separatist rebel leaders in an attempt to end violence in the deep South is making no progress as the army still has no idea who the enemies really are, security sources said yesterday.
Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the army chief who is now in direct charge of restoring peace to the region, is determined to have talks with the masterminds behind separatist violence there. But he still has no idea who to negotiate with, the sources said.
The army, through its special-warfare intelligence officers, is trying to find the leaders of separatist movements in the region, hoping that its go-betweens would be able to persuade them to hold talks with the authorities, they said.
However, the sources conceded that the army is still uncertain whether its go-betweens would be able to reach the real masterminds, or whether such rebel leaders would agree to negotiate. Both the go-betweens and separatist leaders could still harbour fears they might fall into a trap, they said.
The army is aware that militant attacks in the deep South have largely been well organised, said the sources, citing the bomb attacks on Saturday night in Songkhla's Hat Yai district which left four people dead and over 50 others wounded. The attacks marked the founding anniversary of the Gerakan Mujahidin Islam Pattani (GMIP) separatist movement. Earlier, there were the bomb explosions at 22 commercial bank branches in Yala province on Aug 31, which coincided with the founding anniversary of the Bersatu separatist movement.
According to the sources, army intelligence officers have yet to get responses from their go-betweens sent to contact the separatist leaders. These top rebels are still lying low probably because they still fear for their own safety, or because they still doubt the government would support the army chief's move to hold peace talks with them, the sources said.
One of the sources said the army's intelligence authorities still know nothing much about the southern separatist movements and their members.
"We have no idea who their real leaders are. We only have names but don't know their whereabouts. Most of them are abroad but we don't know if they will come to talk with us. We must admit we still have no clues how to reach these movements' leaders," the source said.
The army is trying to approach members of the GMIP, Bersatu, Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN), and Pattani United Liberation Organisation (Pulo) in order to reach their leaders. However, all such efforts have so far been based on the army's old database about the movements and their members.
The army is adamant its peace talks move would provide a solution to the southern problem. "But Gen Sonthi won't do the negotiations himself as that would attach too much importance to those movements. He will have operational staff do it," the sources said.
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