Thailand: March 30, 2004

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On the 27th a bomb went off near a night club in a Thai town near the Malaysian border. Islamic radicals are suspected, although no one took credit for the attack. Some 28 people were wounded. So far this year, at least 60 people have been killed, and many more injured, in southern Thailand. More police are being sent to the four southern provinces where over five million Moslem Thais live. Border controls are being tightened, as Islamic radicals from Malaysia are suspected of being involved in the violence. But much of the problem appears to come from friction between Buddhist and Moslem Thais. Most of those killed and injured this year have been government officials and Buddhist clergy. The government has responded to this by replacing the army commander in the south with someone more sensitive to the situation (and a good negotiator). Many police and army commanders were replaced as well. It is thought that the attackers are young Thai Moslems who wish to drive non-Moslems from the region and establish an Islamic government. There are radical Moslem groups like that among all the Moslem communities in southeast Asia (especially Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines).

 

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