Three killed in Ramadan violence in restive Thai south

Around 7,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in violence that rarely makes international headlines despite taking place a few hours south of some of Thailand’s tourist hotspots. (File/AFP)
Updated 28 May 2019
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Three killed in Ramadan violence in restive Thai south

  • The insurgents detonated a motorcycle bomb at a crowded market place in Nong Chik, Pattani province, killing two civilians
  • The bombing appeared to be in “retaliation” for the death of a fugitive suspected rebel leader in neighboring Yala province earlier in the day

PATTANI: Two people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in a market place bombing in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, a military spokesman said Tuesday — an apparent retaliatory attack for the killing of a wanted rebel leader.
Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, have since 2004 been plagued with conflict between ethnic Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which annexed the region around a century ago.
Around 7,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in violence that rarely makes international headlines despite taking place a few hours south of some of Thailand’s tourist hotspots.
On Monday afternoon, the insurgents detonated a motorcycle bomb at a crowded market place in Nong Chik, Pattani province, killing two civilians.
“A 14-year-old boy and a 38-year-old woman died,” Col. Thanawee Suwannathat, spokesman for the southern army, told AFP.
Four military rangers were wounded in the blast.
The bombing appeared to be in “retaliation” for the death of a fugitive suspected rebel leader in neighboring Yala province earlier in the day, who was shot dead as authorities surrounded his house, Thanawee told AFP.
The 37-year-old suspect, named as Abdulloh Lateh, was “head of operations” in the Yaha district.
The highly secretive rebels, who are pushing for autonomy from Thailand, operate in small village cells, with their senior leaders based overseas far from the reach of Thai authorities.
The grinding conflict is characterised by tit-for-tat attacks that usually target symbols of the Thai state and its security forces but civilians from both Muslim and Buddhist communities often get caught in the crossfire.
The region usually sees an uptick in violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends next week.
Monday’s violence came a day after another bomb attack in Songkhla province killed a police officer at a checkpoint, wounding three others.
Video footage of Sunday’s attack showed a plume of thick smoke as the blast went off, leaving a police officer’s body lying in the middle of the road.
Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha — who is expected to return as a civilian prime minister in the coming days — condemned the latest attacks as “inhuman.”
Peace talks have been inconclusive despite an intensification of army operations in the border zone with Malaysia.


Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

Updated 1 min 23 sec ago
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Portugal suspends visas for Iranians for 'security reasons'

  • Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory

LISBON: Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for unspecified security reasons, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Answering a question from a committee member on whether such a move had been taken, Santos Silva said during the televised meeting: “Yes, we suspended those for security reasons ... I will provide explanations later, but not publicly.”
“Portugal does not play around with entry into its territory,” he added, without disclosing when the decision was taken.
The chairman declared the meeting closed after about two hours without further off-camera testimony.
Joao Goncalves Pereira, the lawmaker from the conservative CDS-PP party who asked the question, told Reuters: “We received information that visas for Iranians had been suspended for two or three weeks, and we just wanted to confirm that.”
He would not say what was the source of that original information or whether any Iranian nationals had complained about the situation.
Foreign ministry officials had no immediate comment and nobody was available for comment in the Iranian embassy in Lisbon.