Report by a government fact-finding team released by the National Reconciliation Commission
April 20, 2004 - a group of 20 instigators met at the home of Hama Saleh in Pattani’s Khok Pho district to plan the attack on a military post near the Krue Se Mosque.
- Key instigators included Isma-ae “Ustaz Soh” Rayarong, Samaae Lateh, Sakariya Yusoh, Abdulroha Sama and Mana “Baeka” Madiyoh.
- Hama, Samaae and Sakariya were among the militants killed inside the mosque. Abdulroha was killed near Mae Lan police station in Pattani. Mana was arrested in Yala.
- Three other instigators - Asmi “Saimee” Salam, Fauzi Salam and Niloh Tonee - reported to the Fourth Army Region and gave their respective statements in July 2004.
- The instigators designated a number of targets, including a post near Krue Se Mosque, for attacks. Hama was in charge of selecting militant leaders and Asmi was to organise a prayer to boost morale.
April 27, 2004 - Prayers were conducted at Krue Se Mosque on the eve of the attacks.
l At the same time, five instigators were in charge of a religious ceremony to release consecrated sand at Songkhla’s Na Thawi district. The ceremony was meant to counter anti-riot operations.
l Following the prayers, local residents reported that a group of 30 Muslims from Yala and Songkhla, dressed for dawa (religious propagation), had dinner at Makamae restaurant. They acted suspiciously.
Militants at Krue Se Mosque on April 28, 2004
- 2am: A team of five militants left the mosque to conduct the religious ceremony aimed to countering the security forces.
- 2.30am: About six to eight militants arrived at the mosque, reinforcing some 18 militants who had spent the night there.
- 4am: Mahasan Madahir Tohbilan, on duty to lead the morning prayer, noticed an unusual number of young men in dawa garments from out of town. After the prayer session, these suspicious-looking men donned black T-shirts, camouflage pants and white headbands.
- 5.10am: About 30 militants moved in two directions from the mosque to security checkpoints.
- Shortly afterward, Sergeant Anwar Benhawan, a Border Patrol Police officer on duty at Checkpoint 9, saw three soldiers flee a nearby post. One of the soldiers alerted him to the danger, saying another soldier had been stabbed.
- Anwar heard a firefight amid a broadcast from the mosque calling for residents to come out and join the fight.
- Another police officer, Sergeant Ibrahim Karina, saw his fellow officer, Sergeant Chamnan Aksornniam, trying to flee a group of knife-wielding assailants. Chamnan died from multiple knife wounds. Ibrahim sustained several wounds.
- Chamnan, Ibrahim, another police officer and three civilians were among the first casualties of the Krue Se Mosque incident. Five motorcycles were torched.
- Around dawn, militants continuously broadcast a message in Malay vowing to fight to the death.
- At first light, security forces started to arrive and put up a cordon around the mosque. Some militants holed up inside the mosque and others fled to hide at a nearby coconut plantation.
- Village headman Doloh Niloh assisted the security forces in trying to prevent onlookers from interfering with operations.
- Some 100 militants staged simultaneous assaults on seven targets in Yala, three in Pattani and one in Songkhla.
Krue Se Mosque anti-riot operations
- Colonel Manas Kongpaen, commander of the Pattani task force, dispatched a five-member patrol team to assess the situation. The team, riding a Humvee armoured vehicle, was shot at from inside the mosque and retreated.
- 6am: Anti-riot forces and snipers were deployed. An hour later, police started to close off roads around the mosque.
- Anti-riot forces and militants exchanged fire. Onlookers started to chant for the security forces to stop shooting after a Muslim man was shot.
- The military mistakenly shot Donkodae Jeho while he was emerging from the mosque. He was not a militant and had earlier performed a religious rite for many militants who were close to death after being
fatally shot by security forces.
- 8am: Militants holed up inside the mosque started to launch M-79 grenades. A number of anti-riot troops were injured by the gunfire and grenade attacks.
- 9am: Anti-riot forces began to fire teargas, but failed because the mosque was heavily barricaded.
- 10am: Another attempt was made to throw teargas grenades. An hour later, three grenades were thrown inside the mosque and casualties were reported. The crowd of onlookers increased to more than 1,000.
- Noon: General Panlop Pinmanee, deputy director of Internal Security Operatons Command, arrived at the scene.
- Manas briefed Panlop that Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had instructed anti-riot forces to surround the mosque in order to force the surrender of militants.
- After Panlop’s arrival, Chavalit issued another instruction via a telephone call to bring food and water to the militants in order to convince them to surrender.
- Panlop talked with Chavalit, notifying him about the necessity for military action.
- 12.30pm. The military threw four grenades inside the mosque.
- 1pm. The firefight erupted again.
- 1.45pm. Anti-riot forces began a two-prong operation to launch simutaneous attacks from two directions. Five teams comprising 17 soldiers were designated to lead the charge against the mosque.
- General Pisan Wattawongkhiri, commanding general of the Fourth Army Region, said that as the military raid was being organised, militants fired M-79 grenades in an attempt to incite onlookers to riot.
- 2pm. The military raid commenced. Five teams charged from two directions and threw altogether nine grenades before opening fire. The charge from the northern side found two militants already dead before the raid.
- About four to six militants tried to return fire and were shot in the head, as per normal sniper procedure.
- The raid lasted four to six minutes.
- Pisan personally inspected the scene following the raid and found 31 dead. Arms uncovered included three HK-33 rifles, two M-16 assault rifles, one M-79 grenade launcher, eight Sparta knives, three trekking knives and one machete.
- As the crowd started to become unruly at around 3pm, the bodies were quickly removed to the provincial hospital - no forensic checks were made at the scene.
- 4pm: Anti-riot forces left the mosque. Afterwards, onlookers were allowed inside.
- The bodies were released to relatives without full autopsies. Blood samples were collected and urine tests indicated no substance of narcotics or other illegal substances.
The committee findings
- Onlookers started to congregate around 7am and their involvement focused on rescuing Donkodae, who
was mistakenly shot by anti-riot forces.
- Late in the morning, the crowd - concerned that the historic mosque would be damaged - started to protest the military’s use of heavy weapons.
- Around 1 or 2pm, while the raid was being planned, the crowd numbered about 1,000 and remained peaceful.
- The number of onlookers surged
to 4,000 following the military raid and protest chants began because authorities blocked them from entering the mosque.
In their negotiations with the militants, anti-riot forces conducted no talks, but simply announced a series of warnings to encourage surrender.
- Religious and
community leaders approached by the military said they were not involved in the mediation attempts because they had declined the offer, were absent at the time, or else could not enter the mosque.
- The anti-riot forces appear to have failed to launch genuine negotiations for the surrender of militants.
- All those killed in the mosque were suspected militants. No pilgrims were present in the mosque when the raid took place.
- All the militants killed were in their 30s except for two aged 17 and 18.
- There is no evidence to substantiate speculation that authorities lured and trapped the militants in the mosque.
- There was also no evidence that authorities had learned about the incident in advance.
Conclusions on the Krue Se Mosque incident
- The committee was divided in
its findings. In the majority were Suchinda Yongsunthron, Aree Wongaraya, Charan Maluleem, Mahati Wimana and Akis Pitakkhumpol. The minority was led by Bhumarat Taksadipong.
The conclusions drawn by the majority
- l The Krue Se Mosque is situated far from the centre of town and thus away from crowds. Its location would have been conducive to lengthy negotiations to end the stand-off. A surrender by the militants might have helped the government’s investigation into unrest in the South.
- Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit had issued a standing order to end the incident by peaceful means, but anti-riot forces lacked the necessary training to manage the crisis and bring about a peaceful conclusion.
- The government should learn a lesson and try to prevent a repeat of the violent suppression.
- Anti-riot forces were operating under intense pressure on April 28 due to attacks at Krue Se Mosque and 11 other targets. The authorities concerned made a decision in good faith to raid the mosque. But the use of heavy weapons was excessive and did not correspond with the arms used by the militants.
- The bodies of the slain militants were not examined in accordance with judicial procedures.
The minority opinion, offering
additional observations that should not be construed as opposing the majority
- No conclusion should be drawn on whether anti-riot operations were excessive. Any such conclusion would be subjective.
- The April 28 attacks were planned, amounting to a battle carried out by enemies of the state.
- The risk of imminent danger should be factor in assessing the level of arms deployed in an anti-riot operation. The types of arms deployed failed to reflect the true situation when security forces had to decide on a course of action.
- The anti-riot forces were obliged to prevent casualties if attacks did not stop. Their action was critical when militants showed no sign of ending the killing rampage or having an inclination to negotiation.
- Anti-riot forces followed the rules of engagement in returning fire initiated by the militants.
- The anti-riot operations should not be judged by hindsight. “Fighters” and “spectators” often have different perspectives on a given incident. Responsible officials had to make decisions under the circumstances and they do not have information that was only uncovered later.
- The anti-riot operations were carried out in good faith to end an act of rebellion.