“The government will still adhere to a policy of reconciliation.” Thai Jihad Update. “Tensions rise after deadly strike in Thailand,” from Agence France-Presse:
YALA, Thailand – Tensions spiraled Friday in Thailand’s troubled south after 11 soldiers were killed in the single deadliest attack against security forces since a separatist insurgency erupted there in 2004.
The troops died late Thursday when their truck was bombed and ambushed by suspected separatist rebels in Yala, one of Thailand’s Muslim-majority provinces bordering Malaysia.
“˜The militants have stepped up attacks in order to increase pressure on authorities,” army spokesman Acra Tiproch told AFP, adding that one more death had been added to the overnight toll.
“˜This was the biggest single attack yet,” he said.
He said that the rebels hoped to provoke a heavy-handed reaction from security forces, who could then be blamed for commiting atrocities against residents in the south.
“˜The government will still adhere to a policy of reconciliation,” he said.
Tiproch makes it sound rather like there are only two options — absurdly disproportionate action, or complete inaction. That is not the case.
Despite a series of peace-building measures, Thailand’s military-backed government is under fire for failing to quell the insurgency which has claimed some 2,200 lives since erupting January 2004 and only appears to be worsening.
Many districts in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces have become virtual no-go zones for government troops.
Both soldiers and civilians die each day in shootings and bombings, while the region has also been plagued by frequent arson attacks.
“˜The situation in the south is getting worse day by day. The militants are stepping up violence to show to the government that they cannot help people in the south,” said Srawut Aree, a senior researcher at Chulalongkorn University”s Muslim Studies Center.
Others say Thursday”s attack showed that the militants were becoming more sophisticated and confident in confronting better-equipped government troops.
Earlier Thursday five young men were gunned down in a mosque in the Saba Yoi district of Songkhla province, which borders Yala and has also seen a spike in separatist violence.
Elsewhere in the south, two people, including another soldier, were shot and killed, while nine troops were wounded in a series of bomb blasts.