A task force of around four thousand Thai and Malaysian troops has been in action against communist guerrillas in the Satao and Betong districts of southern Thailand.
A task force of around four thousand Thai and Malaysian troops has been in action against communist guerrillas in the Satao and Betong districts of southern Thailand. Officers of the combined force reported that five Malaysian and two Thai soldiers were injured by booby-traps in the first ten days of the operation, code-named Salamat Sawadi seven-nine-two.
SYNOPSIS: The operation was launched on February the fourth. Before the troops moved in, aerial and artillery bombardments were carried out to flush the guerrillas from their hideouts. Some air attacks centred on Mount Kao Nam in the Sadao district, where a large number of guerrillas were known to be hiding.
Task force troops who moved into this area on Monday (12 February) made no contact with the communists, and withdrew the same day. Officers said their adversaries were equipped with M-16 rifles, carbines, thirty-calibre machineguns, and had planted mines and set up boobytraps. In the Betong district, the search was conducted throughout two main areas. The task force here consisted of two companies of Malaysian troops and three platoons of Thai border police and army personnel.
They encountered no communists, and their seven casualties were caused by boobytraps.
A border post near Betong on the Thai/Malaysian border. Police and soldiers have also set up check points along the main road. They examine all vehicles, looking for food, ammunition and medical supplies that sympathisers may be carrying for communists in the jungle.
The border post near Betong, which is a few kilometres inside Thailand from its border with Malaysia. Troops here play a role in blocking the movement of basic supplies and protection money which residents of major cities in Thailand's four southern provinces allegedly pay to the Communist Party of Malaysia (CPM). Police and soldiers have also set up check points along the main road. They examine all vehicles, looking for food, ammunition and medical supplies that sympathisers may be carrying to guerrillas hidden in the jungle.
A Thai army officer said that merchants were getting twice the market price for food that is smuggled to the guerrillas. He claimed the communists' morale had dropped because of shortages of food and ammunition.
This is Betong City, whose population is said to be decreasing "as the number of communist insurgents reportedly increases". The army officer said Thai villagers, while fearful of the Malaysian communists' influence, were being recruited, in part because the communists had closer contact with them than Thai officials.