The jihad escalates in Thailand. From AP, with thanks to Nicolei:
Unidentified arsonists on motorcycles set a string of fires targeting mostly deserted police checkpoints in southern Thailand where Islamic leaders have warned that violence would escalate after the disappearance of a prominent Muslim lawyer, police said Friday.
The attackers set fire to nearly 40 sites in the provinces of Pattani and Songkhla late Thursday, Police Maj. Gen. Paithoon Pattanasophon said in a telephone interview.
Paithoon reported no casualties from the blazes, adding that they caused panic but no major damage.
Three government-owned trucks, five houses and at least 30 deserted police checkpoints were set on fire, he said.
Many police checkpoints, the prime targets of attacks, were left unattended following a Jan. 4 raid on an army armory by suspected Muslim separatists.
A prominent lawyer, Somchai Neelahphaiji, who is defending five Muslims accused of participating in the raid and four suspected Thai members of the Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, went missing last Friday from a Bangkok hotel.
Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh told reporters Thursday he has been kidnapped by unidentified people but denied state involvement.