Six reported dead in Thailand after insurgent attacks

Suspected Muslim insurgents seized dozens of weapons in 34 coordinated nighttime attacks.

thai 88 (photo credit: )
thai 88
(photo credit: )
Suspected Muslim insurgents seized dozens of weapons in 34 coordinated nighttime attacks across southern Thailand, leaving six people dead, the military said Thursday. The attacks took place over several hours along the Malaysian border in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces, said regional military spokesman Col. Somkuan Saengpataraneth. The violence killed four villagers, two of them village chiefs, and two insurgents, and injured seven other people, Somkuan said. Initial reports showed that insurgents attacked at 34 places in the three provinces, and "took away dozens of guns from the houses of the village chiefs and from the village defense volunteers," military spokesman Lt. Gen. Palangul Klaharn said on broadcaster ITV. Somkuan said the situation was "under control." Local authorities offered rewards of 20,000 baht (US$490; €400) for the return of any of the weapons. More than 1,100 people have died since a south Thailand Islamic separatist movement re-emerged in January 2004. Most of Thailand's 65 million people are Buddhists, but about 10 percent are Muslims who live in the three southernmost provinces. They have long claimed they are treated as second-class citizens, and the south has been restive for decades. Earlier this week, police said the southern separatists have adopted methods used in other countries. "The insurgents have been using the same tactics of attack that the terrorists do in Iraq and Indonesia, which result in a large loss of life among innocent people," said police Lt. Gen. Achirawit Suphanaphesat, spokesman for National Police Bureau. He did not elaborate. Other officials have noted an increased use of bombs detonated remotely by mobile phone, and other sophisticated forms of attack. "The security forces in the region need to adjust their strategy from the defensive to be more offensive to counter the insurgents and to protect the lives and property of people," Achirawit said at a news conference. This year's casualties in the insurgency up to Oct. 24 include 38 police officers, 19 soldiers and 393 civil servants or civilians killed, and more than 1,000 people injured, Achirawit said.