More of the same from the usual suspects.
Eight die in fresh South violence
Insurgent attacks on state schools and Thai-Buddhist communities have claimed more civilian lives in the past two days in the deep South, provincial officials said Tuesday.
The fresh wave of violence coincided with the launch Tuesday of a 104-page report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch which roundly blasts the southern Muslim separatists for targeting civilians in its political struggle.
Two public school teachers were gunned down on Monday in Pattani, 720 kilometres south of Bangkok, and six other Thai-Buddhists slain Monday and early Tuesday.
"The insurgents have shifted their tactics from beheading villagers to targetting public school teachers," said Pattani Governor Panu Uthairat. Altogether 69 teachers have been killed in Thailand's southern conflict over the past three years and eight months.
Female teacher Kesine Timthep, 42, was shot dead Monday in front of her pupils by two gunmen as she was about to enter the Sasanasuksa School in Sai Buri, Pattani. A male teacher was also gunned down Monday in Yalang, also in Pattani province.
Arsonists set fire to at least five state schools in the province Monday night, forcing ten schools to shut their doors to pupils on Tuesday.
Prapaijit Noonlaksert, 44, a female rubber tapper, was killed in an ambush early Tuesday as she entered a plantation with four other Thai-Buddhist workers, police said.
"The recent wave of attacks may be in revenge for all the suspects authorities have arrested in recent weeks," said Panu. Thai authorities have rounded up hundreds of suspected insurgents in the past three months, keeping many of them in detention under powers allowed by an emergency decree enacted in the region.
Some 2,500 people have fallen victim to an escalating separatist movement in Thailand's three southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, since January, 2004, when the conflict took a militant turn for the worse.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch on Tuesday launched a 104-page report on the conflict that sharply criticized the separatists for their increasingly brutal attacks on civilians.
"After decades of low-intensity insurgency, Thailand's southern region is becoming the scene of a brutal armed conflict," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Separatist militants are intentionally targeting both Buddhist and Muslim civilians in shootings, bombings and machete attacks."
The report identifies the Pejuang Kemerdekaan Patani, or Patani Freedom Fighters, in the loose network of National Revolution Front-Coordinate as the backbone of the new generation of Muslim separatist militants.
Of the 2,463 people killed in attacks during the past 40 months, some 89 per cent or 2,196 victims were civilians, it said. At least 29 of the victims had been beheaded.
"Violence against civilians is being used by separatist militants to scare Buddhist Thais away from these provinces, keep ethnic Malay Muslims under control, and discredit the Thai authorities," said Adams. "But it is illegal and morally indefensible to deliberately target civilians in any circumstances."