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Thailand's Muslim insurgency reignites

Oct. 1, 2012 at 9:20 AM   |   Comments

JAKARTA, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Attacks in Thailand's restive southern Muslim provinces have killed six people and wounded 27.

The shooting and bombing attacks occurred in Thailand's southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. An insurgency began in the provinces in 2004, with militants seeking an independent Muslim state carved out of southern Thailand, a majority Buddhist country.

More than 5,300 Thais, both Buddhist and Muslim, have died in the mayhem, with the provinces suffering bomb or gun attacks nearly every day.

In the past two days in Pattani, gunmen killed a Muslim policeman, a 74-year-old Buddhist and a Muslim security volunteer in separate attacks. In two incidents in Yala province, gunmen attacked a Buddhist couple on their way to the local market, killing the wife and wounding the husband. Early Sunday in Yala, an 18-year-old Muslim man was found shot dead, while a mother and daughter were attacked and injured by militants in a separate incident in the same province, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Two violent attacks also occurred in Narathiwat. In the first assault, a husband and wife, security volunteers on their way to a shooting training session, were attacked with the woman dying and her husband wounded. In an attack causing 23 wounded, militants fired two grenades into a busy local market festival in Narathiwat's Bacho district.

Earlier attacks this year in the three provinces have included bombings and beheadings.

In response to the rising summer violence Thai government officials announced that they had renewed peace talks with militant Muslim insurgent leaders.

In the most lethal recent incident, on Sept. 22, six people were killed and more than 40 injured when a car bomb exploded in a busy shopping area in Sai Buri town in Pattani. Security officers who were lured to the bomb scene were among the wounded included.

The bomb, hidden in a black vehicle with fake license plates, detonated when a team of police and defense volunteers were draw to Kamolphan gold shop after being alerted by a phone call that armed men had opened fire on the shop opposite a motorcycle repair shop where the car containing the bomb was parked, less than 300 feet from the police station.

Following the incident, Thai army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha acknowledged that, despite such encouraging signs as the recent surrender of 93 militants to the authorities, he didn't know when the insurgency would be quelled.

"Globally, this kind of problem cannot be 100 percent solved. The military is not the sole unit responsible for the problem," Prayuth said.

He said Thailand didn't need foreign help to tackle the southern insurgency.

In contrast to Thailand's go it alone policy, the neighboring Philippines have accepted U.S. military assistance to combat separatist Muslim guerrillas in Mindanao.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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