Cho Airong district to be declared the first “safety zone” in the Deep South

Cho Airong district of Narathiwat has been chosen as the first safety zone in the Deep South, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon disclosed on Thursday (April 19).

He said that the steering committee to resolve the southern border problems agreed at a meeting to declare Cho Airong district as the first safety zone for the restive region.  The proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval, he added.

To ensure safety in Cho Airong, Gen Prawit said that authorities concerned must work out measures to make sure that the zone is safe while admitting that there remains difference in opinions between the government and MARA Patani, an umbrella organization of separatist groups.

The deputy prime minister also confirmed that a suspected Thai Islamic State (IS) militant wanted by Malaysia, Awae Wae-eya, was not an IS suspect, but was an admirer of the extremist group who often claimed to have link with the IS in the social media.

The other IS suspect believed by Malaysia to be hiding in Deep South has already left Thailand, he added.

Malaysian police earlier this week said that four suspected IS militants are believed to be hiding in Thailand’s southern border provinces to evade arrest by Malaysian police following the recent arrest of some members of their terror cell.

The four suspected IS militants were identified by Malaysian police as Mumaham Faizal Muhamad Hanafi, 29; Muhamad Hanafi Yah, 51; Nor Farkhan Mohd Isa, 31; and Awae Wae-eya, 37, who is from Cho Airong district of Narathiwat.