Thailand: Stuck in the South

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June 20, 2007: In the last three years, 2,300 people have been killed by Islamic terrorists in the south, with total casualties of over 10,000. This includes 70 non-Moslem teachers killed. The violence is not very popular among the southern Moslems, many of whom fear the terrorists, and their gangster allies, more than they do the notoriously tough police. While the smuggling and drug gangs provide some employment, most southerners see the gangsters as a menace that they have to put up with. But since some of the gangs began backing Islamic militants (who have not made any moves against the gangs), life has become more difficult. The attacks on the schools is particularly unpopular down south. The bombs have killed and injured many Moslems, and commerce has been disrupted. Some of this was on purpose, to intimidate the many Moslems who oppose the violence. Apparently, most of the violence is being carried out by a small number (a few hundred) activists, most of them gangsters or students of Islamic schools. The government is being quite restrained, and trying to persuade Moslems to inform on the terrorists. But this would mean informing on the gangs, who are part of the community. Retaliation is almost guaranteed. The Islamic militants are also from the area, and under the protection of the gangs. So getting a lot of informants has been difficult. On the plus side, the violence is restricted to a very small part of the country, the only areas where most of the population is Moslem. If the terrorists tried to operate outside the three Moslem provinces in the south, they would be turned in by the majority Buddhists, who are very unhappy with the religious nature of the murders down there.

June 18, 2007: In the south, a remote control bomb hidden in a tree wounded 13 people at a tea shop. Two soldiers were wounded by another bomb, as they escorted a teacher to work. Some 260 schools were closed in the south (out of 700), because of security fears. The ones closed were in the most remote areas, and the most difficult to guard.

June 17, 2007: In the south, two more schools were burned, and the teenage son of a teacher was murdered. Police arrested seven terrorist suspects, including two with prior records. Weapons and documents were seized as well.

June 16, 2007: Some 4,000 people assembled in the capital demonstrated against the military dictatorship. There have been daily demonstrations, but the government discouraged the big one for today by mobilizing over 10,000 soldiers and police. Many checkpoints were set up to discourage attendance, and efforts were made to get a photo of everyone attending the event.

June 15, 2007: In the south, a roadside bomb killed seven policemen.

June 14, 2007: In the south, a remote control bomb went off at a football match, wounding 14 policemen.

June 13, 2007: In the south, three Buddhists were killed, and one beheaded. Two bombs went off, killing one soldier, and wounding 14. Islamic terrorists burned down 13 schools in one district. Over a hundred schools have been destroyed in the last three years.

 

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