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Violence rises in South

Violence is escalating in Thailand’s insurgency-hit deep south, the Thai government said Tuesday following a string of bomb and gun attacks in the Muslim-majority region.

Friday 11 March 2011, 05:43AM


Violence is escalating in Thailand’s insurgency-hit deep south, the Thai government said Tuesday following a string of bomb and gun attacks in the Muslim-majority region.

"I concede that the violent unrest is increasing, but our officials are determined to work to their utmost ability" to resolve the problem, Tawin Pleansri, secretary general of the National Security Council, told reporters.

"It is difficult to oversee such a wide area. Although fewer incidents occurred, they were more serious," he said.

Shadowy Islamic militants have waged an insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost region bordering Malaysia since early 2004, leaving more than 4,400 people dead, including both Muslims and Buddhists.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva acknowledged that the recent killings appeared to be a response by militants to the government’s security operations in the region.

"They are trying to incite conflict among local people," he added.

Violence appears to have intensified recently, with a series of bomb attacks in the region, including one in January which killed nine people. An unusually bold attack a week earlier on a military base left at least four soldiers dead.

Authorities say the militants appear to have changed their tactics, focusing on more violent attacks.

A security force of more than 60,000 is stationed in the provinces affected by the violence, battling militants whose precise aims are unclear. The authorities say a swift end to the conflict is unlikely.

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"This problem cannot be solved in a few months," said Suthep Thaugsuban, deputy prime minister in charge of national security.

Critics accuse the government of failing to address the grievances of Thailand’s Malay Muslim minority, including alleged abuses by the military and a perceived lack of respect for their ethnic identity, language and religion.

The latest victims included a 61-year-old retired Buddhist police officer and his young granddaughter who died after a drive-by shooting on Monday (March 7) in Pattani province.

He was the second retired police officer to be killed in two days.

Hours early a 32-year-old villager was shot dead while two people, including one policeman, were wounded in a car bomb in neighbouring Narathiwat province.

Monks in Pattani were asked to stop collecting alms for one month after unknown gunmen killed one of their peers and injured two others on Saturday (March 5).

- AFP

 

 

 

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