Thailand: Gang Busters Get Bombed


September 8, 2009: In the south, five years of Islamic terrorism have left nearly 3,200 dead (out of a population of about two million), according to the official government count. The government has also spent over $3 billion in that time, on economic projects. The Moslem south has always lagged economically, partly because of lower education levels, and partly because organized crime was more pervasive in the south. The powerful smuggling (to and from Malaysia) gangs have always been influential in the south. That's partly because they offered thousands of southerners some form of employment (most of it sporadic and part time), but mostly because these guys were armed and willing to use force to get their way. Police believe some Thai Islamic radicals have received bomb building training overseas and are now behind the increase in the use of roadside and car bombs. Some bombs appear to have been smuggled in from Cambodia, as they are of a design used in that country.

The number of police and troops serving in the three Moslem provinces, has doubled, to 60,000, in the last two years. This led to a 40 percent decrease in Islamic terrorist violence. However, in the last few months, there has been a slight increase in violence (deaths so far this year are 12 percent greater than the same period last year.) Part of this is caused by the growing success of the security forces in keeping the Islamic terrorists out of villages, and getting army patrols deep into rural areas where the terrorists have bases. In response, the terrorists are using more bombs, and more attacks on Moslem southerners (who are not guarded as heavily as the 20 percent of southerners who are not Moslem.)

Most Thais are resigned to years of further violence, fueled by criminal gangs seeking less police interference, and Islamic radicals seeking to create a religious dictatorship in those three southern provinces. The security forces see it as a fight to the death, and feel they cannot lose (as they never have before in a battle like this). But many government officials see the violence as an opportunity to build the economy in one of the poorest parts of the country. However, the Islamic terrorism, and pervasiveness of criminal gangs down there, has discouraged many businesses from investing in the south. In the last two weeks, there has been more than one terrorism related death a day down there, and each one gets lots of publicity in the national press. There are better places in Thailand to invest.

Nine police generals are accused of bribery (in giving out contracts and in deciding who would get promoted.)

September 4, 2009: In the south, a car bomb killed one and wounded 12.

September 3, 2009: Two bombs went off in the south, killing one and wounding 31.

August 29, 2009: In the south, a grenade was thrown into a crowd watching a sporting event, killing one and wounding 16.

August 25, 2009: A car bomb went off in the south, outside a restaurant full of Buddhists (as Moslems do not eat during the day during Ramadan, the month long religious fast that just began).

August 23, 2009: In the south, ten armed men, in two pickup trucks, attacked an army checkpoint and killed two soldiers.

August 22, 2009:  In the south, several acts of violence left six dead and over a dozen wounded. Among the dead were Moslem informants and officials in the village defense force. The local informants, and village defense militia are going the Islamic terrorists the most trouble.




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