BANGKOK May 25 Thailand's telecoms regulator
said on Thursday anyone wanting to use or buy a pre-paid SIM
card for a mobile phone in the deep south will have to have
their fingerprints verified and face scanned to stop insurgents
from using them to trigger bombs.
A decades-old separatist insurgency in the largely ethnic
Malay Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat has
killed more than 6,500 people since 2004, according to
independent monitoring group Deep South Watch.
Attacks in the region near the border with Muslim-majority
Malaysia, have intensified this year. The latest bomb, outside a
supermarket in Pattani town, wounded 60 people this month.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National
Broadcasting and Telecommunications, told Reuters people can
start registering their pre-paid SIM cards next Wednesday.
During registration, fingerprints will be matched against
the data stored on identification cards, he said.
SIM cards for post-paid accounts are already registered on
Pramote Prom-in, a spokesman for government security forces
in the region, told Reuters fingerprinting would make it more
difficult for insurgents to buy pre-paid SIM cards and could
help authorities identify bombers.
"It can help prevent using mobile phones to trigger bombs,
and with registration we can track attackers," Pramote told
But insurgents had recently turned to buying mobile phones
and SIM cards from Malaysia to avoid authorities, Pramote said.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Patpicha Tanakasempipat;
Editing by Robert Birsel)