Nearly 70 arrested in raids in Thai south
NARATHIWAT, Thailand (AFP) — Thai security forces arrested 69 suspected separatist militants in raids on homes in the troubled Muslim-majority south, police said Sunday.
More than 200 police and army rangers swept through the seven villages in Narathiwat province along the southern border with Malaysia, where they also seized shotguns, pistols, and bomb making supplies, police said.
The latest arrests followed raids on Saturday, when 13 people were arrested in Narathiwat.
Since late June, Thai forces have arrested hundreds of suspected militants and taken them to detention camps at army bases where they are questioned and often go through "re-education" programmes.
They are required to be released after 30 days unless they are charged, but could be detained again in the next security sweep.
A five-minute gunfight broke out during one of the raids, injuring two rangers, police said.
More than 2,500 people have been killed in nearly daily violence in the Muslim-majority south since an insurgency broke out in January 2004.
Mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed the region a century ago. Separatist violence has flared periodically since, and has escalated this year despite a raft of peace measures by the kingdom's army-backed government.
In a concession, the army said it would lift the curfew that has been in effect for six months in two districts of Yala province, in order to allow residents to observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The army spokesman, Colonel Acar Tiproch said the curfew would resume after Ramadan unless the security situation improved.
I didn't realize that the 1750s was only a hundred years ago... Thanks for clearing that up AFP!