Thailand, return of Malay separatist violence: bomb attacks leave18 injured
Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 18 people were injured in a series of bomb attacks overnight and in the early hours of the morning in Yala province, southern Thailand. According to military sources the attacks are the work of hand of Muslim separatist guerrillas, active for some time in the region and leading a bloody war with the government in Bangkok.
Regional security spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-in, reports that "fourteen bombs exploded last night, followed by three more in the early hours of this morning." The bombs hit Muang Yala, the provincial capital, wounding 18 people. Five of them are still in hospitals in the city.
Thai army sources explain that the attacks are a message from insurgents to the central authorities, in "retaliation" for the recent security measures taken by the military junta. The Junta has been in power for about a year following a bloodless coup that led to the ouster of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The central government has recently introduced new strategies to counter the separatist guerrillas, including DNA tests to identify and strike fighters. According to the executive, these measures have led to a 50% decrease in attacks by Muslim Malay rebels. However, lawyers and human rights activists say the forced DNA swab testing is a source of further tension and alienation.
The Muslim majority in the southern region of Thailand, the nation overwhelmingly Buddhist, never subjected to the dominion of Bangkok: it speaks a Malaysian dialect and follows customs and traditions linked to the Muslim culture.
The war in the south, concentrated in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, has so far caused at least 6,500 victims, most of them civilians.
Of the 300 thousand Thai Buddhists living in the region, at least 70 thousand have fled since January 2004, when a rebel raid targeted an army munitions depot, killing four soldiers. The commando also removed more than 300 weapons, with which in the years after it has led a bitter struggle against the military.