Seven suspects arrested for rebel attacks in Thailand’s south

An ambush on two checkpoints manned by civilian defense volunteers left 15 villagers trained and armed by the Thai state dead. (AP)
Updated 09 November 2019

Seven suspects arrested for rebel attacks in Thailand’s south

  • Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been in the grip of a simmering 15-year conflict
  • The fighting is characterized by tit-for-tat attacks that usually target symbols of the mostly Buddhist Thai state and its security forces

BANGKOK: Seven suspected rebels have been arrested in Thailand’s violence-wracked south, authorities said Saturday, as a manhunt sweeps through remote villages for gunmen who killed 15 in an ambush considered the deadliest attack in the years-long insurgency.
Thailand’s three southernmost provinces have been in the grip of a simmering 15-year conflict that has killed more than 7,000 people, the majority civilians, as Malay-Muslim militants fight for more autonomy from the Thai state.
The fighting is characterized by tit-for-tat attacks that usually target symbols of the mostly Buddhist Thai state and its security forces.
But Tuesday night’s ambush in Yala province was on two checkpoints manned by civilian defense volunteers — villagers trained and armed by the Thai state — which left 15 of both Buddhist and Muslim faith dead.
A suspect was swiftly arrested the following day and raids carried out late Friday night in Yala and Pattani provinces netted six more, said southern army spokesman Pramote Prom-in.
Authorities also found bloodied gauze in the home of a local village doctor near the crime scene, which is under “forensics” investigation to match the blood traces left from the shoot-out, he told AFP.
“We suspect around 30 to 40 people were involved,” Pramote said, adding that it remains unclear which particular separatist group orchestrated this highly organized attack.
No group has stepped forward to claim responsibility in this attack, as is the case with most incidents in the so-called “deep south.”
But a shadowy patchwork of rebel groups has long warred with Thai security forces, accused of heavy-handed tactics by Muslim communities who feel targeted in their homes.
The region is also under martial law, with numerous checkpoints dotting remote villages and security forces given the right to detain any person without warrant.
All suspects have been moved to the notorious Inkayuth military camp in Pattani province, said Pramote — the army’s biggest detention center in the south where rights groups have documented torture.
A Muslim man who was detained there in July was left in a coma after an interrogation session. Abdulloh Esormusor died in August and an army probe found that his death could have been due to “suffocation.”
Anger had snowballed over the case, with an umbrella group representing some of the shadowy rebel groups saying they suspected “foul play” in Abdulloh’s case and calling for an international probe.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 11 min 25 sec ago

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”