06/09/2009, 00.00
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Thailand, fresh violence in the south. Victims from the Mosque attack now 12

by Weena Kowitwanij
Rebels have attacked diverse areas on Yala province. Police officials denounce attempts to “spark conflict between the Buddhist and Muslim communities”. Thailand and Malaysia ready to cooperate to resolve the issue of Islamic separatism.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Bomb attacks, bins set on fire and streets barricaded, entire areas under attack: voice and unrest in the south of Thailand continue and this morning erupted in the province of Yala.  Yesterday an armed command raided a mosque in Jawairong district of Narathiwat province, killing 12 people including the imam; 17 were injured, 11 of whom are in a serious condition.

This morning at 8 am local time a bomb exploded at an oil depot near the Yala transport company terminal in Muang district; two people were wounded in the attack.  Three schools in the district of Raman –Yala – were closed down for security reasons.  In many areas throughout the province the insurgents have started fires and blocked traffic.

Yesterday evening in Jawairong, Narathiwat province, an armed gang of six men raided a mosque during evening prayer, and laid waste to worshippers. The gang opened fire killing 12 of the 100 people who were gathered in prayer at the moment of the attack.  Among the death was Imam Waelau Woowaekama head of the Ipayae community.  Major Gen Therachia Nakawanich, described the incident as “outrageous”; “We believe the criminals are aiming to create conflict between the Thai-Buddhist and Thai-Muslim communities within the area”.

Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, on a state visit to Malaysia, has announced “a special 3-year economic program to develop the area”. Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, says they “are ready to cooperate” with the Thai government “to resolve the issue”.  Under discussion is a project sponsored by Malaysia to provide “additional professional training to Muslims so they return to their homeland with to earn their living and contribute to the local economy”.

3400 people have died in years of attacks and unrest in the southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani, all majority Muslim in a Majority Buddhist nation.  Islamists want autonomy from Bangkok.  The rebellion is also a result of former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s harsh policies enacted in the south to quash the insurgents.  Emergency rule favoured army and police abuse of power, while the government, to date, has failed to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

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