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After attacks, Thai PM supports curfew

Feb. 11, 2013 at 12:04 AM   |   Comments

BANGKOK, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Five Thai soldiers were killed Sunday in two attacks blamed on Muslim insurgents, police said.

Officials said in addition to the deaths, five others were wounded in roadside attacks in Thailand's troubled southern provinces.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that a curfew should be imposed in some southern border areas to counter the rising insurgency there.

Thai Police Major Torphan Pusanthi said insurgents detonated a car bomb on a road in Raman district in Yala province as a truck carrying six soldiers passed. The insurgents then opened fire on the soldiers, killing five of them, leaving one wounded.

The second attack occurred when militants exploded a bomb on a road in Ra Ngae district in Narathiwat province and wounded four soldiers.

Yingluck said a curfew ought to be imposed in some southern border areas to counter insurgency in the restive region, albeit with some provisos, The Bangkok Post reported Sunday.

After advocating a potential curfew, Yingluck called for a thorough discussion on the decision, which was initially proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, with royal Thai Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha backing the suggestion.

Yingluck, after stating that she said she didn't want the imposition of a night curfew, added that if it must be implemented, it should be in areas where there had been repeated violent incidents and not areas considered low risks of attacks.

Yingluck suggested that alternative measures should be discussed, telling reporters: "Authorities are looking into details. Any areas that are peaceful, we don't want to announce curfews but any areas that remain problematic, we will look at it on a case-by-case basis."

The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century. Muslims in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and part of Songkhla provinces have long complained, however, of discrimination by the Buddhist-dominated central government.

Since November 2004 the region has been roiled by a rising insurgency of the region's separatists, 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 since then, with the provinces suffering bomb or gun attacks nearly every day.

In 2005, Thai authorities imposed a state of emergency on the troubled three southern provinces but the hard-line stance failed to stop the rising violence.

Far from being part of the global jihadi movement, analysts say the indigenous Muslim insurgents are rebelling against a long history of discrimination against ethnic-Malay Muslims by successive Buddhist-dominated Thai governments in Bangkok.

Muslim militant groups operating in Thailand include the Mujahedeen Pattani Movement, the Pattani United Liberation Organization, the Pattani Islamic Mujahedeen Movement, the Mujahedeen Islamic Pattani Group, the National Revolution Front, the Pattani Liberation National Front, Jemaah Islamiyah and Runda Kumpulan Kecil.

Jemaah Islamiyah has attracted the most attention from Western intelligence agencies because its activities have spread across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

© 2013 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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