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Prayuth:  Lack of care led to twin tragedies
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has apologised for the army's "lack of understanding and care" that led to large numbers of deaths in the Tak Bai and Krue Se crackdowns in 2004.
"I admit I am upset. I have to apologise on behalf of the army," he said yesterday.
The army was accused of using excessive force in both attacks.On April 28, 2004, the army shot 32 people inside the Krue Se mosque in Pattani's Muang district after it was taken over by suspected militants.On Oct 25 the same year, 78 people who were arrested while demonstrating outside Tak Bai district police station in Narathiwat died of suffocation while being transported to Ingkayuthboriharn base in Pattani's Nong Chik district.Gen Prayuth apologised yesterday in an address to 600 villagers including teenagers from the Muslim-dominated provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.They had gathered at the Thai Army Club in Bangkok yesterday to join a career training programme, held by the Interal Security Operations Command (Isoc).
"The incidents happened partly because of carelessness on the part of the authorities.
"I promise not to let anything like that happen again," he said.
Gen Prayuth said that in dealing with problems in the South he did not want anyone to lose their life.
"But soldiers alone cannot solve this problem. Everyone must lend a helping hand," he said.
"No matter what, the three provinces cannot be separated or given self-rule because that would be against the constitution," he added.
The army would not solve southern security problems by resorting to violence.
The army chief, however, said tough action will be taken against traders of contraband goods and peddlers of illicit drugs.The problems have exacerbated the security woes in the far South. Gen Prayuth admitted the army was unable to provide full security as the insurgents had infiltrated a large area.However, residents who cooperated with authorities were helping to restore peace.Meanwhile, the Fourth Army will go ahead with its plan to replace a military unit in Rueso district despite opposition from villagers, said its chief Udomchai Thammasarorat.The villagers do not want the 30th Narathiwat Task Force, which has guarded their neighbourhoods in Rueso, to be replaced by the 24th Pattani Task Force. They worry the newcomers may not be familiar with the area.
Also, local authorities in Narathiwat have acquired 90 rai of land in Muang district to build the first teacher centre to give better care to teachers.The project was initiated by Her Majesty the Queen, who is worried about teacher safety and poor living conditions in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.  A total of 138 teachers have been killed in insurgency-related attacks in the provinces since the insurgent violence renewed in early 2004.The centre will contain a school, housing and recreational areas, all in one compound.If teachers can work and live in one place, there should be in Narathiwat province.

led be less need for them to go outside and be exposed to risk of attacks by insurgents, local authorities say.The government plans to build one centre each in Muang district of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.



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