If I am a little morose this New Year’s eve, you will please forgive me. The relentless Muslim war against everyone else in Thailand’s southern provinces raged on in 2013, and tonight the final accounting for the past year is in.The number of deaths, injuries, attacks and incidents is even more appalling when one considers that the population of the southern provinces is about the same as Houston, Texas: 2 million souls give or take a few.In southern Thailand, devout Muslims accomplished the following in 2013:- Committed over 1,500 terror incidents of all types- Set off over 320 bombs in public places, stores, roads and schools.- Launched 514 shooting attacks in schools, homes, businesses, highways and other public places.- Committed 87 arson attacks in stores, schools, Buddhist temples and homes.- Murdered 132 civilians- Murdered 5 teachers- Murdered 1 Buddhist monk- Murdered double the number of Police and Military personnel compared with 2012- Murdered 36 police officers- Murdered 93 soldiers, rangers and marines- Injured over 700 people, with hundreds suffering serious injuries that they will never fully recover from.Some of the “injured” are blind, or without legs or arms; or all of that. At least one child I know of has no lower jaw. Pretty girls no longer have faces. Once-strong and vibrant young men sit in wheelchairs. The word “injured” doesn’t do justice to the condition of many who survived and who sometimes wish they had not.
POLICE AND military casualties from the southern unrest more than doubled to 129 last year from 60 a year earlier, despite the series of peace talks with insurgents and the Ramadan truce, according to a police report.
Of the 267 deaths of officials and civilians due to separatist violence in 2013, 36 were police; 93 were soldiers, rangers and marines; 132 were civilians; five were teachers and one was a monk, said the report by the Police Operational Centre in the Southern Provinces.
Rising toll among militants too
On the other side, 51 militants were killed, which was more than the previous year's unspecified figure due to an increase in raids and blockades to 45 occasions, which saw 18 of them killed after firefights.
In 2012, the death toll was 21 police, 39 military personnel and 223 civilians, with no details about other people, according to the centre.
There were 1,539 incidents as of December 23, up from 1,465. They were broken down into 514 shootings, 87 arson attacks, three brutal murders, eight assaults, 24 ambushes, 714 disturbances of the peace and one protest.
Injuries were inflicted on 70 police officers, 352 military personnel, 265 civilians and eight teachers, for a total of 695 cases.
Out of 513 security warrants, 562 suspects were arrested.
Yesterday, fake bombs were planted at two locations in Yala's Muang district, likely by insurgents intent on causing a commotion.
Police blocked off a main road to keep people away while they tried to identify the objects. They shot rifles at them, only to find that they were tin cans filled with gravel.
At one location, sheets of paper with "Pattani Merdeka" (Independence to Pattani) written on them were lying on the ground nearby.
AS MANY AS 320 bomb attacks have hit Thailand's deep South during the past year. As of Sunday, 105 explosions had erupted in Pattani, 69 in Yala, 129 in Narathiwat, and 17 in Songkhla.Just last Saturday, three bombs exploded in Songkhla's Sadao district, injuring 27 people. Many victims sustained serious injuries.Kaycha Benjakarn, mayor of Tambon Samnakkham Municipality, yesterday lamented that one of those bomb attacks should have been prevented given that a local vendor had alerted police about a suspicious pickup near the Oliver Hotel hours before the truck proved to be a vehicle bomb and blew up."She called police in the morning," the mayor said. It then took about an hour before police arrived and checked the vehicle. They then simply told the vendor that the pickup was being used by someone going to Malaysia to buy cheaper petrol."Those policemen then left the scene. The bomb exploded, injured people and caused property damage," Kaycha said.Sadao Police Station superintendent Colonel Paipana Petchyen admitted that a police captain and a second lieutenant had inspected the truck but failed to recognise it as a vehicle bomb. "They were too inexperienced. It's because no violent incident had happened in Sadao district before," Paipana said.Provincial Police Region 9 chief Lt-General Pisit Pisuthsak said the recent incidents signalled that insurgents were trying to expand their violence to new areas. Initially, only four districts of Songkhla - Saba Yoi, Tepha, Chana and Na Thawi - had been struggling with unrest the way Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces have.In fact, concerns about Sadao have emerged since Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) - which has engaged in a peace dialogue with Thai authorities - began mentioning the district in its demands earlier this year.The government has tried to defuse the unrest in the deep South via various means, including the peace dialogue with BRN.Colonel Pramote Phrom-in, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Forward Command, said the government's approach, especially the peace dialogue, had received praise from participants at the 40th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.The session ran from December 8-11 in the West African nation of Guinea.