TEMPO.CO, Aceh – Thailand and Indonesia on Tuesday, January 14, signed an intelligence exchange agreement that the Thai army chief said would help limit the movements of insurgents operating in the southern Muslim-majority region of Thailand.
The Buddhist majority in Thailand and the Muslim majority in Indonesia will share information on “movements of extremists, rebels or perpetrator groups that have been undermining national security,” according to the official document Reuters said.
It was signed during an official visit of the Thai army chief general, Apirat Kongsompong, to the Indonesian province of Aceh on Tuesday.
“It’s about limiting the freedom to operate in groups, because we will share information and monitor people,” Apirat said.
Apirat said that Indonesia, particularly Aceh, has been used in the past by Thai insurgent groups to train, as well as to hide and plan operations against Thailand.
Thailand is fighting a Muslim separatist insurgency in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat that has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, according to the Deep South Watch monitoring group.
In a recent attack, insurgents stormed a security checkpoint and killed 15 people.
The Indonesian chief general, Perkasa, did not mention any specific militant groups that Jakarta was asking Thailand to monitor, but emphasized regional cooperation.
“When handling any security problem, we must handle it together,” General Perkasa said.
Threats to Indonesia include militant Islamist groups such as Jemaah Islamiyah and other groups inspired by the Islamic State.
Aceh was involved in an insurgency that killed 15,000 people for three decades to a truce in 2005 between the Aceh and Jakarta Free Movement that gave the region special autonomy and allowed it to implement the Sharia law.
However, Apirat expressed no imminent hope of a peace agreement with the insurgents of southern Thailand.
“I have said that the land within the Kingdom of Thailand cannot be separated, but there are still those who are against it all the time, so how can peace be achieved?” he said.