Thai Jihad Update. 49 bombings, shootings, and arson attacks overnight, and Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont is still talking about winning “hearts and minds.” “Thailand warns of more ‘terrorist’ attacks,” by Boonradom Chitradon for AFP:
BANGKOK (AFP) – Islamic separatists could stage more “terrorist” attacks, Thailand has warned, after nine people were killed in overnight strikes as many Thais began celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Thailand’s army chief of staff said the insurgents, who have battled the government for three years in Muslim-majority provinces of southern Thailand, could try to stage new attacks during upcoming Buddhist holidays.
“The violence may increase, and it will be the same kind of terrorist tactics,” General Montri Sangkasap told reporters Monday after an emergency security meeting in Bangkok.
Thailand’s junta chief, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, and Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont had summoned military and security chiefs over the attacks that killed nine and wounded 44.
Surayud insisted that no more troops were needed in the region, and said that instead he would pursue his “hearts and minds” campaign to win over the area’s residents to the government side.
“Our work now needs to focus on building cooperation between government officials and the people, to get rid of their apprehension of authorities,” Surayud said.
The insurgents staged some 49 bombings, shootings and arson attacks late Sunday and early Monday, targeting mainly homes and businesses owned by Buddhists or ethnic Chinese, army officials said.
Three people were killed in shootings and six others in bombings in the 12 hours of violence, the officials told AFP. A total of 44 people were injured, they added.
On Monday evening, four more people were injured when militants staged two more shootings and a bombing in Yala province, police said.
“They want to frighten Buddhists and ethnic Chinese living there so that they will leave the region,” army spokesman Colonel Acar Tiproch said.
Montri said officials believed the attacks were timed to coincide with the Lunar New Year holiday observed by many ethnic Chinese in Thailand.
Of course, this year’s Lunar New Year also marks the start of the Year of the Pig.
“The violence happened because it was a holiday period when there were many people celebrating. We have to be careful during the next religious festivals,” especially during important Buddhist celebrations in March and April,” Montri said.