RESTAURANT ATTACKS : Proprietors of southern food shops living in fear

News

Customers staying away, owners shutting up stores in wake of killings

The fatal shootings and bomb attacks at two food shops in the deep South have terrified the region’s small restaurant owners, forcing some of them to quit the business and others to seek protection from the authorities.

Several food-shop owners in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat told The Nation that they feared for their lives and the safety of their employees.

They had sought protection from the authorities and warned staff to be on the lookout for strange patrons.

Some of the shop owners said they were forced to close their businesses because the terrorist attacks made customers too frightened to eat out.

A bomb exploded at a noodle shop in Yala’s Muang district on Monday, killing the owner and injuring customers.

The following days, gunmen opened fire at a food shop in Narathiwat’s Sungai Padi district, killing the owner and injuring a customer.

Anchalee Saetan, a noodle shop owner in Yala’s Muang district, said restaurant operators held a meeting with the Yala Municipality because they were frightened by the terrorist attacks.

After the meeting, the municipality agreed to station municipality police and defence volunteers at the shops.

Anchalee said she felt a little safer after two municipality policemen were deployed at her shop and the local vicinity.

“I used to be nervous all the time. I asked my employees to watch out for strangers coming into the shop,” Anchalee said.

Several of her friends who operated restaurants in the district decided to close their shops indefinitely. She said the terrorist attacks had caused her business to decline and she now makes about Bt1,000 a day less.

The owner of a seafood shop in Yala’s Muang district, who asked not to be named, said the number of his customers had started declining even before the attacks because customers did not feel safe about eating out.

He said he had to reduce the size of his shop from three rooms to just one.

Another shop owner in Narathi-wat’s Sungai Kolok district said she closed her food-shop business because the terror campaign had scared away her customers.

Published on January 20, 2005

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