'All sides must agree' on peace talks team in Thailand

Children plough a rice field in the southern border province of Narathiwat yesterday as part of an activity held to promote a simple, local way of life.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha is planning to set up a Thai team to participate in a peace dialogue with Barisan Revolusi Nasional, but only after he has discussed the issue with Malaysia, which has been serving as a facilitator of the talks since last year.

The dialogue between the two sides was kick-started during the previous elected government's term.

"We need to find out if the other two parties will agree with our choices," General Prayut said yesterday, though he refused to confirm whether the Royal Thai Army's chief adviser, General Aksara Kerdphol, would be leading the team.

Prayut said he would only make the team official after all three parties involved in the peace dialogue have reached a consensus.

The peace talks were initiated with the aim of ending violence in Thailand's deep South. Unrest has plagued the country's southernmost region for more than a decade, claiming thousands of lives.

On Thursday, unknown attackers shot two Mathayom 5 students in Pattani's Muang district while they were heading home.

One of the boys, Suttipong Tasuwan, succumbed to his injuries in hospital on Thursday night. He was a policeman's son.

Suttipong's classmate, meanwhile, also sustained serious injuries and was being treated in hospital as of press time.

An investigation revealed that the gunman was a passenger on a motorcycle that chased the boys' vehicle and opened fire. It is believed that the attack is related to the unrest.

In another recent attack, a man was shot while he was walking home on Thursday night in Pattani province.

He died at a local hospital.