News / Asia

Thai Army Urges Curfew after Insurgents Attack Base

Security personnel investigate around bodies of insurgents at the site of an attack on an army base in the troubled southern province of Narathiwat, February 13, 2013.
Security personnel investigate around bodies of insurgents at the site of an attack on an army base in the troubled southern province of Narathiwat, February 13, 2013.
Daniel Schearf
The Thai military is urging people in its troubled south to stay indoors after soldiers repelled a large-scale attack on a base by scores of armed militants.  At least 16 of the attackers were killed in one of the biggest death tolls in the nearly 10-year insurgency by Malay Muslims seeking autonomy from Buddhist Thailand.

The Thai army says at least 60 heavily-armed insurgents, dressed in military-style fatigues, attacked a base early Wednesday in southern Narathiwat province.

The military says it was tipped off to the planned attack, was ready and suffered no casualties in the exchange of fire.  It seized 13 rifles, as well as pistols, bombs, and vehicles.  

Most of the militants escaped into forested areas on the Thai border with Malaysia.

Fourth Army spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-in says the military is urging a self-imposed 24-hour curfew while they search for the remaining attackers.

He says the Fourth Army is asking local people to stay home from 6 am until 6 pm to allow the military to inspect the area.  He says bombs are still found in some areas and the military has to hunt for the insurgents.

The colonel gave no further details and says he had no time to respond to questions.

The attack is the bloodiest since 2004, when security forces retaliated against insurgents with heavy firepower, leaving more than 100 dead.   Thirty two Malay Muslim militants were killed during the single raid on the Krue-Se mosque, further inflaming the insurgency.

The insurgents are a shadowy group believed to want more autonomy for the south but have no united, public face.

Thailand is majority Buddhist,  but its three southern border provinces with Malaysia - Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala, are 80 percent ethnic Malay Muslim.  

More than 100 years ago they formed an independent Malay sultanate, until Thailand seized the territory.  

A simmering resentment against Thai Buddhist rule exploded in 2004 in fighting that has left more than 5,000 dead, most of them civilians.

Srisompob Jipiromsri is director of Deep South Watch, a Thai think tank on the southern problem.  He says Wednesday's attack on the base was not only a tactical failure, but also showed growing support for the Thai military.

"More and more people are fed up with the violence.  But, still, the insurgents could keep their own political base or political support among many of the people of the Malay Muslim people," Srisompob stated.

The bloody firefight comes just days after a car bomb and gunfire attack in the south killed five soldiers and wounded five more.

Aside from military and police, insurgents also target teachers, schools, monks and other soft targets viewed as representatives of the Thai Buddhist state.  

More than 150 teachers have been killed since 2004.  Earlier this month, four fruit vendors were found dead, their hands were tied and they had been shot execution style.  

Matthew Wheeler is a Bangkok-based Southeast Asia analyst for the International Crisis Group.  He says insurgents are increasingly bold in their attacks and Thailand's political divisions have made ending the violence that much harder.

"It would be a difficult conflict to tackle, under the best of circumstances.  But, the prolonged political uncertainty in Bangkok has certainly made it much more difficult for the Thai authorities to do the sorts of things that are necessary to bring about a resolution of the conflict - things like having a sustained dialogue with insurgent leaders," said Wheeler. "And also working on new political arrangements for the south that would provide more space for Malay Muslim identity within the Thai state."

Thailand's security agencies meet Friday to discuss the southern problem and the possibility of a nighttime curfew.  But, critics argue a curfew would be of limited help as many attacks happen during the day and limitations on movement would only further alienate the Malay Muslim population.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More