Thailand: Terrorists Demand Immunity From Pursuit


July 3, 2013: The peace talks with the southern separatists are stalled and the three terrorist groups that oppose the talks have increased their violence in protest. The negotiations are not going anywhere because the Islamic radicals have apparently gained control of the negotiators and forced them to ask for things the government will not provide (diplomatic immunity for the negotiators and a halt to police and army efforts to find and arrest known terrorists). Making peace is very popular among the Moslem civilians and the south favor a negotiated settlement, but the smuggling gangs and Islamic radicals do not. Thus, since the peace talks began in late March, the violence in the south has doubled. Most of the additional attacks are against security personnel and government officials. Attacks on civilians (most of whom support the talks) have declined by half and there have been no attacks on teachers (which is unpopular with most civilians). The groups carrying out these attacks oppose real negotiations because they oppose anything less than a separate Moslem state in the south. Others want to be sure that the smuggling gangs (which have supported some of the terror groups) are not interfered with. The most the government will grant is more autonomy and economic aid. A decade of violence down there has left nearly 6,000 dead and driven many Buddhists from their homes in the three majority Moslem provinces in the far south. The government believes the negotiators have been threatened by the most extreme terrorists and are no longer able to deliver any kind of deal. This was always a possibility, and unless the Moslem population down south can deal with their own radicals, the government will be forced to keep chasing down the terrorists, a process that could go on for years.

The Islamic terrorists and criminal gangs have gone to war against the growing number of security cameras installed in the south. Several dozen have been destroyed in the last few weeks. This has prompted security companies to employ vandal-proof installation techniques that make the cameras more difficult to destroy and often capture video of those carrying out the attacks (by having visible cameras watched by hidden ones).

June 29, 2013: In the south a roadside bomb killed eight soldiers.

June 25, 2013: The southern rebels offered a Ramadan (the Moslem holy month that is July 8-August 7 this year) truce. The rebels promised to reduce their attacks if the soldiers remained at their bases and police patrols were curbed. The government refused, as this would enable the smugglers to operate with little risk at all and allow terrorists to move about and recruit freely.

June 21, 2013: European ambassadors warned Thailand that if police and government corruption were not addressed on the southern resort island of Phuket, the Europeans countries supplying most of the 4.8 million tourists to Phuket each year would warn their citizens to go elsewhere. Police and officials on Phuket have become increasingly corrupt and tolerant of criminal behavior on Phuket. This has led to a growing number of tourist complaints. The tourism industry accounts for five percent of GDP, employing two million people, or seven percent of the workforce. Phuket is a major destination for tourists.

June 18, 2013: In the south a policeman and a solider were killed in two separate terrorist attacks.

June 15, 2013: In the south a police raid (because of a tip) on a terrorist hideout resulted in a gun battle that left one terrorist dead and another (who was wanted for killing six civilians) arrested.




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