Police chief won’t rule out any motives for the bus attack in Yala

The national police chief Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda said Tuesday (Dec 19) that police had not ruled out any possible motives for the torching of a Bangkok-Betong bus in Bannang Sata district of Yala on Dec 17.

The police chief who inspected the crime scene on Tuesday disclosed that police had questioned more than 20 witnesses whose testimonies were very useful and had detained four suspects for questioning.

He added that police had not ruled out any possible motives, be it southern insurgency, business conflict or a training exercise for newly-recruited militants.

The Siam Travel Company’s bus left Betong district for destination in Bangkok was stopped by 10 armed men at Ban Kasod as it was travelling on Highway 410 on Dec 17 afternoon.

The assailants chased away all the passengers and set fire on the bus. All the passengers, the bus driver and the bus conductor were unharmed.

Asked to comment on the distribution of leaflets in Krong Penang and Bannang Sata districts of Yala by a group of militant claiming responsibility for the bus attack, Pol Gen Chaktip merely said that police were still investigating the case.

The leaflets, which were found on Monday night (Dec 18), wrote that passenger bus using highway 410 would face the same fate as the torched Siam Travek Co bus if they failed to pay the passage fee.

Meanwhile, Army Commander-in-Chief General Gen Chalermchai Sitthisad chaired a meeting commanding officers, police and governors of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla provinces to hear briefings about situation in the Deep South and what they have been doing to address the problems.

The army chief however instructed authorities concerned to step up security to ensure public safety in light of the approaching  New Year holidays and celebrations.

In the meantime, business people in Betong district have complained that the temporary suspension of bus service to Betong following the Sunday bus attack has disrupted their business because they have to rely on the buses to bring supplies such as seafood to the district.

An alternative route will take longer travelling time of up to five hours and this will impact on the quality of seafood to Betong which is a popular tourist destination especially for Malaysians.