Thailand: Scared Into Silence


November 10, 2005: The attacks against non-Moslems ("infidels") in the south is having the desired (by the Islamic terrorists) effect. Over a thousand teachers have fled the south, after 80 teachers were killed in the last year by terrorists. There are now 18,000 policemen and 15,000 soldiers in the south (where about two million Moslems live, and a few hundred thousand non-Moslems).

The Islamic militant violence is nothing new in the south. There was a major outbreak in the 1970s. But then it died down, but did not completely go away. As recently as 2000, there were only eight clashes with Islamic militants in the south, causing ten deaths for the entire year. Since then, the number of incidents per year has grown, to about 35 annually. But in 2004, there were 900 incidents, and this year it appears there will be twice as many, and over 1,200 deaths.

The government is intensifying its search for the Islamic terrorists in the south, but it being hobbled by a terrorized (by the Islamic militants) Moslem population. The pressure on the civilians predates the current Islamic militancy. Criminal gangs, largely dependent on smuggling from nearby Malaysia, had long leaned on the civilians to keep quiet. The Islamic militants apparently have connections with the smuggling gangs, because there is no change in the attitudes of most Thai Moslems in the south. The government is trying to develop an informer network, but it's tough going. The police have tried that in the past, but they were outspent, and out-muscled, by the local gangsters. Now, however, it's a little different. The national politicians are under a lot of pressure to do something about the violence in the south, which means there are more police, more money and more freedom to try anything.

November 8, 2005: Overnight, four people were killed as police repulsed attacks, by Islamic terrorists, on police stations in the south. Two of the dead were terrorists, one a policeman and one a civilian.

November 5, 2005: Two Buddhist rubber tappers were shot dead in the south while returning from work in the forest. A .45 caliber pistol was used. In the last month, nearly a hundred pistols and rifles have been stolen from village militias, as a result of dozens of attacks on the villages by Islamic terrorists.

November 4, 2005: A gunman with an AK-47 fired on some men leaving a Mosque in the south. One Moslem man was killed, and another wounded. This is seen as a revenge killing by Buddhists, angry at the growing number of attacks on non-Moslems in the area. Police have arrested ten suspects in the recent killings of non-Moslems in the south.




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