Thai marines kill 16 militants who attacked base

Updated 13 February 2013

Thai marines kill 16 militants who attacked base

NARATHIWAT, Thailand: Marines fending off a militant assault on their base in Thailand's violent south killed 16 insurgents in an overnight shootout, authorities said yesterday. It was the deadliest toll the Muslim guerrillas suffered since more than 100 died in a single day nearly a decade ago.
Thailand’s military has struggled to control the insurgency since it flared in the country's Muslim-majority southernmost provinces in 2004.
About 30 militants attacked the marine base in Bacho district in Narathiwat province just after midnight, said Capt. Somkiat Ponprayun, the provincial marine corps special task force chief.
The shootout ended with 16 militants killed and the rest fleeing, Somkiat said. The death toll was reduced from an initial figure of 19 given out earlier yesterday by a regional army spokesman.
Somkiat said the insurgents — most of them armed and wearing flak jackets — opened fire at the base and were counterattacked by the security forces. Authorities confiscated 13 rifles, three pistols and a pickup truck at the scene.
Violence has occurred nearly every day in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since 2004, and more than 5,000 people have died. Security forces as well as teachers have been targeted by insurgents because they are seen as representatives of the government of the Buddhist-dominated nation.
Muslims in the deep south, which was once independent, have long complained of discrimination by the central government in Bangkok, and the insurgents are thought to be fighting for autonomy. But the insurgency remains murky, with militants making no public pronouncements on their goals.
Somkiat said the marines who fended off the attack suffered no casualties because they had been tipped off by local residents and had prepared for the assault.
The losses yesterday were the most since guerrillas launched simultaneous attacks on police stations and checkpoints in the three provinces in April 2004, triggering clashes in which more than 100 militants were killed, 32 of them at a mosque in Pattani.
The government has attempted to gain support from local residents and separatist sympathizers in solving the insurgency, but progress has been slow. However, experts say militant attacks on soft targets such as teachers and civilians may have made villagers turn to the authorities.
“Some sympathizers are now fed up with the widespread, unspecific killings from the militants because they, too, are affected by the losses,” said Jaran Maluleem.

Muslim expert and political scientist at Thammasat University in Bangkok. "Still, the government must be able to explain to the public why this mass killing of insurgents is justified."
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government will provide protection to the civilians who gave information about the raid to authorities.
"We must not be negligent and must solve the problems at their roots. These issues are sensitive and should be discussed among those living in the area," Yingluck said.
Narathiwat is about 800 km south of Bangkok.

On Sunday, suspected militants killed five soldiers and wounded five others in two attacks that included a car bomb that exploded in Yala province as a truck carrying six soldiers passed by. The militants then opened fire on the soldiers, killing five, and took the dead soldiers' rifles.

Thunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos

Updated 21 January 2020

Thunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos

  • Business leaders are likely to be concerned by the state of the global economy
  • The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent

DAVOS: Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday slammed the business elite for doing “basically nothing” on climate change, as the Davos forum braced for an address from US President Donald Trump hours before his impeachment trial begins.

The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss Alps resort got under way seeking to thrash out dangers to both the environment and economy from the heating of the planet.

Trump, who has repeatedly expressed skepticism about climate change, is set to give the first keynote address of Davos 2020, on the same day as his impeachment trial opens at the Senate in Washington.

Before his appearance, Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world, saying “basically nothing has been done” to fight climate change.

“It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning,” the 17-year-old said.

Speaking calmly and with a wry smile, Thunberg acknowledged that her campaign which began with school strikes had attracted huge attention without yet achieving concrete change.

“There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,” she said.

“I am not the person who should complain about not being heard,” she said to appreciative laughter.

“I am being heard all the time. But the science and the voice of the young people are not at the center of the conversation.”

While the WEF and individual business leaders have been detailing their own concerns about climate change, Greenpeace complained in a new report that some of the world’s biggest banks, insurers and pension funds have collectively invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2016.

“Pretty much nothing has been done as global Co2 emissions have not been reduced. And that is of course what we are trying to achieve,” said Thunberg.

There are no expectations that Trump and Thunberg, who have exchanged barbs through Twitter, will actually meet, but the crowded venue and intense schedule mean a chance encounter cannot be ruled out.

When Trump and his entourage walked through UN headquarters last year at the annual General Assembly, a photo of the teenager staring in apparent fury at the president from the sidelines went viral.

Tweeting before arriving in Davos aboard his Marine One helicopter, Trump appeared in bullish mood, writing he would “bring Good Policy and additional Hundreds of Billions of Dollars back to the United States of America!”

Although Trump’s Republican party holds a majority in the Senate and is almost sure to acquit him on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, the impeachment adds volatility to an already tense 2020 presidential election.

Sustainability is the buzzword at the Davos forum, which began in 1971, with heel crampons handed out to participants to encourage them to walk on the icy streets rather than use cars, and the signage paint made out of seaweed.

Trump’s opposition to renewable energy, his withdrawal from the Paris accord negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, and the free hand extended to the fossil fuel industry puts him at odds with this year’s thrust of the event.

“People are playing a lot more attention to” climate, Eurasia Group president Ian Bremner told AFP at Davos, adding there was “genuine action by some big players,” after investment titan BlackRock said it was partially divesting out of coal.

“But let’s be clear — a big part of this is because we failed for a very long time and governments continue to fail,” he added.

Business leaders are likely also to be concerned by the state of the global economy whose prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund, have improved but remain brittle.

The IMF cut its global growth estimate for 2020 to 3.3 percent, saying that a recent truce in the trade war between China and the US had brought some stability but that risks remained.

“We are already seeing some tentative signs of stabilization but we have not reached a turning point yet,” said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

Activists meanwhile will be pressing for much more concrete action to fight inequality, after Oxfam issued a report outlining how the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade and the world’s 22 richest men now have more wealth than all the women in Africa.