Tenasserim Security Boosted After Reports of Islamic State in Thailand

By May Sitt Paing 15 December 2015

RANGOON — Police in Tenasserim Division have beefed up security in the southeastern jurisdiction’s 10 townships and at border gates following reports that 10 members of the Islamic State (IS) had entered neighboring Thailand.

The Thailand-based news agency Khaosod reported earlier this month that the Russian Federal Security Service informed the Royal Thai Police that 10 IS members had entered Thailand intent on attacking Russian interests there. Following the reports, the Tenasserim Division Police Force has tightened security, setting its color-coded posture in the region to “green,” indicating that security forces are to adopt a heightened level of monitoring for suspicious activity or potential threats from the radical Islamist group.

“It is important that people are safe. Once security is threatened and if people’s trust has declined in us as a consequence, we’re done. That’s why we are taking pre-emptive measures,” Col. Kyi Lin of the Tenasserim Division Police Force told The Irrawaddy, adding that the color code was raised from blue, which indicates a “normal situation.”

“For the time being, we are carrying out tight checks at border gates as well as cooperating with administrative authorities in the townships because we are concerned that [IS members] may get beyond Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] and get into Yangon,” he said.

Tenasserim Division shares a border of more than 500 miles with southern Thailand and the Home Affairs Ministry in Burma’s capital Naypyidaw has instructed the divisional police force to “systematically ensure security.”

“It depends on further reports, how long we’ll be on alert. But so far, we’ve found nothing suspicious,” the police colonel said.

IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has faced a growing air campaign against its forces by the United States, Russia and other European powers. The group, which operates primarily in Iraq and Syria, has gained international infamy in recent years for releasing graphic videos of the beheadings of captives, and more recently claimed credit for a deadly attack in Paris that killed more than 100 people last month.