In the last few days, there's been another spike of violence in the south. Three soldiers were killed while on patrol, and several civilians were wounded elsewhere, by attackers seeking to intimidate informers or local police. The government is sending another 4,000 troops and police to the south, making a total of 64,000.
Despite a gradual reduction in violence in the south, the killings continue. Not as many as before, but 700 have died in the last year, and 3,700 in the last five. That's about two people a day, in an area with a population of two million. That's about five times the murder rate in the rest of the country. The rate of violence has decreased as the police and army have gained the upper hand, but many of the Islamic terrorists are willing to fight to the death. There is increased Islamic violence against southern Moslems suspected to assisting the police. More southerners are doing just that, sensing that the Islamic radicals are a dead end. The Islamic terrorists also make themselves unpopular by their attacks on schools and threatening to impose lifestyle restrictions on the population.
In the last five years, nearly a quarter of the 300,000 Buddhists in the south have fled. This has been another goal of the Islamic terrorists down south, who want to separate the three Moslem majority provinces into an Islamic state (to eventually include all of Thailand, Malaysia and other nations in the region.)
The army is buying a portable aerostat system for use in the south. A truck carrying the gear can inflate the aerostat within an hour, and get it up to an altitude of 1,000 feet (which means its cameras can see out to about sixty kilometers.) The aerostat can carry day or night cameras (including a thermal sensor). In rural areas, the aerostat enables security forces to quickly get persistent aerial surveillance over a large area (2800 square kilometers.) A camera with a powerful zoom lens enables the operator to get a close look at anything down there.
Adding to the stress down south, there is a drought. The government has brought in water transportation and distribution
March 7, 2009: In the south, two college students were killed and their bodies burned. Islamic terrorists are suspected, but there has always been more violence in the south because of the smuggling gangs. But elsewhere in the south, two army rangers, two Buddhists (a village chief and another civilian) were murdered, apparently by Islamic terrorists.