Suspected insurgents hit targets in Thailand

/ Source: The Associated Press

Suspected Muslim insurgents mounted a series of attacks Wednesday in southern Thailand in which six people were killed, the military said.

The insurgents also seized dozens of guns from the houses of village chiefs and defense volunteers during about 30 attacks in Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces, along the Malaysian border. Four villagers, including two chiefs, and two insurgents were killed, ITV television reported, citing military sources.

Lt. Gen. Palangul Klaharn told ITV government forces were pursuing the attackers.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, but up to 10 percent of the country’s 65 million people are Muslims, most living in the three southern provinces, where they have long complained of second-class treatment.

More than 1,100 people have died in sectarian violence since an active separatist movement re-emerged in January last year in the provinces.

Earlier Wednesday, police said the southern separatists have adopted the same tactics as insurgents in Iraq and Indonesia, and their violence has caused 450 deaths so far this year, and 668 the year before.

This year’s casualties include 38 police officers, 19 soldiers and 393 civil servants or civilians killed, and more than 1,000 people wounded, police Lt. Gen. Achirawit Suphanaphesat, spokesman for the National Police Bureau, said at a news conference.

“The insurgents have been using the same tactics of attack that the terrorists do in Iraq and Indonesia, which results in a large loss of life among innocent people,” he said. He did not elaborate, but other officials have noted the increased use of bombs detonated by mobile phones.