Thailand: Seeing Red


October 26, 2010: As troublesome as the Islamic terrorism in the south is, the army is now more concerned with the red shirt populist groups. Recently, dozens of senior officers were transferred because they were suspected of being pro-red shirt. The red shirts represent the majority (about 60 percent) of the population, who resent the way the urban, wealthier and better educated minority has overthrown the populist dominated government two years ago, and resisted the populist efforts to regain power. The government has been launching more investigations of alleged red shirt plots, and arresting more political opponents and charging them with planning terror attacks. But the red shirts continue to stage demonstrations and apply political pressure to get 19 of their leaders released from jail and fair elections held. Hardly a week goes by without another large demonstration by red shirts. The army sees the red shirts as a far greater, if less violent, threat than the Islamic terrorists down south. In six years of unrest, there have been about 10,300 violent incidents down south, causing 11,600 casualties (about 38 percent of them fatal). But sixty percent of the dead have been Moslems (who are nearly 80 percent of the population in the three southern provinces). The violence has been declining in the last year, with more of the casualties Moslem. This is because public opinion down there has turned against the terrorists, and more attacks are made on Moslems to try and force them to cease cooperation with the police.

October 25, 2010: In the south, eight bomb attacks killed one and wounded 18. The attacks commemorated a 2004 incident where 85 Islamic radicals were killed.

October 22, 2010: In the south, an Islamic cleric was shot dead inside a mosque. Such violence inside a mosque is rare in the south, and it's unclear who carried out this attack.

October 19, 2010: The emergency decree (martial law) for the south was renewed for another three months (to January, 2011.) The emergency rule has been in effect for the three southern provinces since 2005.

October 15, 2010:  In the south, a Moslem local defense volunteer was shot dead while manning a checkpoint.

October 14, 2010: Fifteen Pakistanis were arrested in the south, where they had been raising money for flood relief in Pakistan. But someone noted that the money was being sent to groups in Pakistan that were on a terrorist watch list. So were the names of four of those arrested. The Pakistanis have been soliciting money in the south for about a month.

October 11, 2010: Thai officials accused Cambodia of allowing Thai red shirts to operate terrorist training camps inside Cambodia. This was denied by Cambodian officials, who challenged the Thais to provide some proof.


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