Thailand: terror rocks southern villages

Presumed Islamist insurgents detonated two bombs that killed one and left 71 wounded in Narathiwat province of Thailand’s restive south Nov. 4, and burned down a school the following day. Nobody was injured in the arson attack, but the two-story schoolhouse was destroyed. More than 80 Buddhist teachers have been killed in southern Thailand since an Islamist insurgency broke out in 2004.

The first blast appeared to target local officials and civil servants at the Sukhirin district office who were leaving a monthly meeting. But the targeted building also housed an indoor fruit market, which was busy with shoppers when the blast went off. Minutes later, a second bomb hidden in a motorcycle went off outside a nearby tea shop. Thirty-three village heads and district officers are still being treated in hospitals in the southern provinces. (Bangkok Post, IHT, Nov. 5)

Also Nov. 5, presumed militants killed four civilians—including a 16-year-old boy and a janitor on his way to work—in armed attacks in neighboring Yala province. The blasts came a week after Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat visited the region and told reporters the insurgency appeared to have eased.

More than 3,400 people have been killed in attacks by insurgent groups in the region since January 2004. The three far southern provinces (Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani) were an ethnic Malay sultanate until mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed the region in 1902, leading to decades of tensions. (AFP, Nov. 5)

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