INTRODUCTION: In Thailand, Communist guerrillas have been stepping up their operations. On Sunday (17 April)?
INTRODUCTION: In Thailand, Communist guerrillas have been stepping up their operations. On Sunday (17 April) they interrupted a visit by Australia's Foreign Minister Andrew peacock in the north east. He was due to inspect a highway built with Australian aid, but his visit was cut short when guerrillas were seen in the area. Much of the fighting is in the jungles of southern Thailand, where joint Malaysian and Thai military operations are continuing. But the Thai government is also waging a psychological war with the guerrillas -- both inside and outside actual combat zones.
SYNOPSIS: Here at Sanam Chai, near Bangkok, just over a week ago (9 April) local people were shown what sort of weapons the Communist insurgents use. The exhibition was organised by the military's Internal Security Operation command.
The weapons, all captured from Communist insurgents last year, included an anti-tank rocket launcher as well as automatic guns. A member of the army team added a touch of realism to the show by demonstrating how the rocket launcher should be fired. Exhibitions like this one are part of a government propaganda campaign to replace fear with a more informed view of the guerrilla campaign.
The psychological warfare programme includes training in self-defence, and here in the Sadao district in southern Thailand, villagers are shown the basics of jungle combat.
Although they are only using mock weapons for this practice patrol, the dangers are real enough. For only last month (4 March), Communists ambushed and killed 29 villagers in the north who were returning from a home guard training course. After this six-day basic training programme, these rubber plantation workers will return in a year's time for refresher course.
The Thai government's main drive against the guerrillas at present is in the south near the border with Malaysia.
These are Thai troops, but they are taking part in a joint operation by both the Malaysian and Thai armed forces. A "hot pursuit" agreement between the two countries was signed last month, enabling both sides to enter each other's territory along the border during anti-guerrilla operations. This combined drive took place last Tuesday (12 April), and during it two large guerrilla camps were uncovered.