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Muslim insurgents launch multiple raids in Thai south

By Reuters in bangkok | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-13 07:27

Suspected Muslim separatists in southern Thailand launched a wave of more than 30 attacks on Monday, including shootings, bombings and arson, police said, killing one person and injuring more than 10.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, but Muslims are the majority in parts of the south, and decades-old resistance to central government rule resurfaced violently in 2004.

Paradorn Pattanathabutr, a security adviser to the prime minister, said the targets included a shopping mall, which was set on fire, and electricity pylons.

"One woman died and more than 10 others were injured. We believe the perpetrators are rebel Muslim groups trying to recruit more people for their cause," Paradorn told Reuters.

Police in Narathiwat province, close to Thailand's border with Malaysia, said bomb attacks were carried out at more than 10 locations and a Muslim woman was killed in one blast.

More than 5,700 people have been killed in the south since January 2004, with more than 40 killed this year. There are various shadowy rebel factions, and their main demand is for greater autonomy for their long-neglected region.

The opening of peace talks last year has done nothing to end the violence. Meetings have been postponed and the talks appear to have stalled, with Thailand's caretaker government preoccupied with surviving protests against it in Bangkok.

Muslim insurgents launch multiple raids in Thai south

Interim prime minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan expressed hope on Monday that February's annulled general election would be rerun soon, and he said anti-government protesters would not succeed in getting the Senate to impose an unelected premier.

The caretaker government has been in office since the Constitutional Court ordered ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's and nine ministers to step down last week in a nepotism case.

That followed six months of political turmoil in Bangkok, the latest phase of a nearly decadelong struggle between former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother, who was overthrown by the army in 2006, and the royalist establishment.

Before being forced out, Yingluck had agreed with the Election Commission to hold an election on July 20, although the date has not been ratified by the king.

Niwatthamrong said on Monday that the government would meet the commission on Wednesday to decide the best date.

"Hopefully, we will have an election soon, but it may slip, depending on the meeting," he said. "I can't guarantee the election will be successful, but I have high hopes."

Protesters intent on removing Yingluck, whom they viewed as a proxy for her self-exiled brother, disrupted the vote in February and the Constitutional Court later annulled it.

(China Daily 05/13/2014 page11)

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