TARGETS AND METHODS USED IN THAILAND’S MUSLIM SOUTH: TEACHERS, MONKS, BOMBINGS AND BEHEADINGS

TARGETS OF ATTACKS BY MUSLIM SEPARATISTS

Most of the violence associated with the Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand has taken place in three predominately-Muslim provinces—Narathiwat, Yala, and Pattani—in near the Malaysians border but a small number of attacks have taken place in Bangkok and other places such as Songkhla Province, near Pattani Province. In any cases Muslim insurgents can not be directly linked to the attacks. In most cases no one takes responsibility.[Source: Information in this articles is mainly from AP, Reuters and AFP reports]

Police and soldiers are usually the main targets but shop owners, village chiefs, teachers, politicians, plantation owners, customers at busy tea shops, Buddhist monks collecting alms, plantation workers going to and from work, construction workers, motorist stopped at gas stations, ice cream vendors, tax collectors, public health workers, hospital staff, women, children, infants, villagers watching a soccer game, a leader of an elephant troop, and innocent bystanders in markets have all been targeted. Often victims are are people who are believed to have colloborated with the government. Sometimes even the children of soldiers, police and politicians are hunted down.

Rubber plantations, rubber warehouses, schools, Buddhist monasteries, vehicles and buildings have been burned down. Schools have been targeted because they regarded as symbols of government authority. Trains lines and power infrastructure have been sabotaged with explosives. Some attacks were aimed at security force posts with the goal of stealing guns and other weapons, Inmates have rioted in prisons, burning offices and destroying living quarters.

Some of the killings that have been added to the tally are the result of military and police feuds or battles between criminal syndicates or political rivals. There are a lot of smugglers, drug runners, rogue soldiers and police, corrupt officials and bandits. Attacks tied to Muslim militants have been restricted to southern Thailand. There were no major attacks on Bangkok or tourist centers such as Phuket or Pattaya which are not that far away.

Attacks on Monks in the Muslim South

Buddhist monks have been targeted on a number of occasions in southern Thailand. They have often been attacked as they were going on their morning alms-collecting round. Even those guarded by soldiers and police have been attacked. In January 2004, three Buddhist monks were hacked to death with machetes and two others were injured. One was a 13-year-old novice who was attacked outside a Buddhist temple as was doing his begging rounds

In October 2005, 20 suspected Muslim insurgents assaulted stored a monastery and hackled an elderly Buddhist mink to death and fatally shot two temple boys. Monasteries are usually well guarded. The attacked monastery had lost its protection because of a funding shortage. A few days before six dogs at the monastery died from poisoning, a sign that an attack was imminent. In a similar attack in 2004, 15 militants stormed and temple and hacked two monks to death with machetes and set their bodies on fire. A month later the decapitated head of a monk was found in bag in Pattani Province with a note that read, “You arrest innocent people, we continue killing innocent people.” In August 2007, a bomb exploded among village shops as Buddhist monks stepped off a truck. Among those injured were two monks and soldiers guarding them on the truck.

In December 2006, two students and soldier were wounded when a bomb explode near the entrance to a secondary school in Narathiwat Province. The blast occurred as students were leaving a bus.

In June 2009, Reuters reported: “A Buddhist monk was killed and another seriously injured when they were gunned down while collecting alms as more violence erupted in Thailand's restive south, police said. Police said suspected separatist insurgents dressed in exercise clothes rode past on motorcycles and fired automatic weapons at the monks as they collected food donations in an urban area of Yala province. The attack raised tensions between Muslims and the region's minority Buddhists and villagers have accused the military of involvement, saying no Muslim was capable of such an act. The army rejected the claims and blamed insurgents for the attack. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has urged Bangkok to probe what it said was the latest aggressive act on southern Muslims by "armed and organised elements". [Source: Reuters, June 12, 2009]

May 2011, The Nation reported from Yala: “Two Buddhist monks were killed when Muslim insurgents detonated a homemade bomb to ambush them while they were heading to a town to collect alms. Two troops, who were guarding the monks, were also severely injured in the bomb attack, which occurred at 6 am. Police said the insurgents assembled the bomb in a cooking gas cylinder and detonated the bomb with a wired remote. The two troops were driving the monks in a pick-up truck to Tambon Yaha Town to collect alms. When the passed the spot on a road in Bayo village in Tambon Baroh in Yaha district, the explosion occurred. [Source: The Nation, May 16, 2011]

Attacks on Teachers

in the Muslim South

Teachers have frequently been gunned downed and targeted in bomb attacks. They are favored targets because they are symbols of government authority. and easy targets to find and kill. Militants view the school system as a effort by the Thai government to impose Buddhist culture on the Muslim south. Teachers are frequently attacked on their way to and from work— often fatally—even though they are escorted to work by soldiers and schools are watched by armed guards. Schools have been fire bombed and burned down. Death threats have sent teachers and students running for their lives. As of January 2013, 158 teachers and education officials have been killed in the south, the US-based Human Rights Watch said. Nearly all the murdered teachers have been Buddhists.

In May 2006, a bomb hidden in a motorcycle exploded in a busy market in Pattani Province, killing two Buddhist teachers and wounding 14 shoppers. The following month a 65-year-old retired Buddhist teacher was beheaded. His head was placed on a road with a note that said “You arrested an innocent man, I will get two Buddhists in return.” The body was found in a nearby rice field. In July 2006, a Buddhist teacher was shot in the back of the head as he stood at a blackboard in front of his forth grade class by men dressed as students.

In November 2006, a schoolteacher was shoot dead just after the start of a new school term in Yala Province. The Yala education chief told AP, “Everyone s living in a state of fear, but education has to go on, The atmosphere is not favorable for classes, but we have no choice.” In another area students were too afraid to go to school because of the beheading of a Buddhist rubber plantation workers. The same month all 336 primary and secondary schools in Pattani Province were closed after a teacher and principal were killed. The body of the principal was set on fire after he was killed. An education board memmber said, “Teachers can’t bear what has happened. They are paranoid, worried and afraid.”

In June 2009, a 55-year-old female Buddhist teacher was fatally shot as she drove her motorcycle to her school in Yala Province. Later that month a 38-year-old female Buddhist teacher was shot dead in Narathiwat Province by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle. In September 2009, a 37-year-old Buddhist teacher was shot dead and his body was burned in the Raman district of Yala Province. The teacher was shot three times while riding his motorcycle to class on what was an Islamic holiday.

In July 2010,a 30-year-old teacher—who was also a corporal in the border police—was attacked as he left a school in Si Sa Khon district of Narathiwat Province. In September 2011, The Nation and AFP reported: “A teacher was shot dead and his body set on fire in Yala. Kanit Lamnui, 38, was shot dead by unknown attackers soon after he drove out of the Ban Kameng School on his motorcycle in Yala's Raman district.

Mark Magnier wrote in Los Angeles Times: “Mali Jadarat, a teacher at Paknam Elementary School, saw her school administrator husband off to work one morning in 2006. A few hours later, he was dead, killed in his car by assassins with a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol. The community held a big funeral, but she was soon overcome by depression. A Thai Buddhist, she's more wary of her Muslim students now, despite being raised in a Malay Muslim village and speaking the local dialect.” [Source: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times April 4, 2010]

School Killing in Late 2012 and Early 2013 in the Muslim South

In December 2012, The Economist reported: “men armed with assault rifles burst into the canteen of Ban Ba Ngo school in the southern Thai province of Pattani and shot dead two teachers. The next day the teachers’ unions shut down all 1,300 state-run schools in the three provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, and in four districts of neighbouring Songkhla, in protest. [Source: The Economist , January 19, 2013=]

“The two December killings came amid a concerted assault on all schools and teachers in the area. On October 31st a school caretaker and his 11-year-old son were shot dead; on November 22nd the headmistress of Ban Tha Kam Cham school was killed while driving home; a week later part of a school was burned to the ground. Children have also been wounded in bomb attacks. The Thai army, which has about 60,000 soldiers in the four provinces, all heavily armed, has been unable to stem the violence. =

Just as they were starting reopen there were more attacks. In January 2013, a teacher was shot dead in the canteen of Ban Tanyong school by insurgents in Narathiwat's Bacho district . The Bangkok Post reported: “The Educational Service Office, which oversees the district, said 21 out of 27 schools, including Ban Tanyong, closed their classroom doors following the death of Chonlathee Charoenchol, a 51-year-old Muslim teacher, who was shot in front of his colleagues and students in the school's canteen. The killers also made off with his bronze Nissan sedan. Killing a Muslim teacher is rare in the deep South. Reports said both teachers and students in the southern province have lost all morale and have no confidence in the security measures provided for them. "The Education Ministry will decide if it wants border police to fill in as teachers in the South, but the army is ready to help upon request," a government official said. [Source: Bangkok Post, January 24, 2013]

Also in January 2013, Two men riding on a motorcycle attacked a pickup truck carrying seven students to Rueso Kindergarten school in Narathiwat's Rueso district and killed the driver in full view of the horrified students The Bangkok Post reported: “The driver was named as Pannawat Tohfai, aged 38. He was hit three times, in the head and upper body, with bullets from an 11mm calibre handgun and died on the spot. Mayeeda Lameng, a 45-year-old villager who witnessed the attack, told investigators that the man riding pillion on the motorcycle opened fire at the pickup truck's driver. Mr Mayeeda said the shooting happened in full view of the seven students, who were seated in the back of the vehicle. All the children were safe, but in shock. The attack occurred a day after more than 700 teachers in the deep South took an oath not to abandon their students in the restive border region at a ceremony in Narathiwat to mark Teachers' Day. Police blamed insurgents.[Source: Bangkok Post, January 17, 2013]

Teachers Face Death in Thailand's Muslim South

Reporting from Ban Takeh, Thailand, Daniel Rook of AFP wrote: “Armed soldiers guard the road leading to Malatee Porsotee's village school in southern Thailand while security volunteers with rifles keep watch over the classrooms. Students gather in the morning sunshine to sing the national anthem, raise the Thai flag and take daily exercise on a grassy yard surrounded by flowering bougainvillea, as roosters peck in the dirt. But the presence of guns in this otherwise tranquil scene underscores the danger that teachers like Malatee face every day. [Source: Daniel Rook, AFP, August 10, 2010*]

“Education workers are a top target for insurgents in Thailand's Muslim-majority southern provinces, and her school has already lost one to a militant attack. The Thai army says more than half of its troops in the region are deployed to protect educational institutions and teachers, some of whom carry their own guns for protection in case of an ambush during their daily commute. "I don't know what's along the way on the roadside. Sometimes grenades were found, so I'm scared," said Malatee, a 28-year-old Muslim who teaches English at Ban Takeh primary school in Pattani province. "I'm afraid that it will be my turn or I'll be the target. I'm afraid to stay late in the evening because it's dangerous, so I hurry home instead of teaching late." *

“Despite the increased security at schools across the region, the killings show no sign of ending. On July 26, 55-year-old school director Pitchai Suasaeng was shot dead while driving home from work elsewhere in Pattani. At Malatee's school, where the students are all Muslims, armed watchmen provide around-the-clock protection. "We're afraid people might burn down the school, especially at night," said one of the guards, Magoseng Ali. Asked what he would do if there was an attack, he replied: "I'll shoot them back!" *

“At state schools many Buddhist teachers, fearing for their lives, have transferred out of the region. Malatee says she sometimes thinks about looking for a different job but well-paid work is hard to find in Thailand's deep south, one of the country's poorest regions. She also worries for the students' future if nobody will teach them. "When I work with children, I'm happy. I feel proud that I teach them. When I started being a teacher, there were not many attacks. Now I feel a bond with them," she said. "That's one of the reasons why I don't want to quit." *

Teachers Living With Attacks by Muslim Separatists

Teachers in southern Thailand have killed at a rate of about one a month, In addition, hundreds of schools have been attack by bombers or arsonists. A large number of Islamic teachers, often viewed as collaborators and informers, have also been killed.

One teacher told the Washington Post, “just getting to school and home safely each day is an achievement.” On school days, car pools gather in Yala at a gas station and join guarded convoys that go to the schools, Children and teachers often dress in sneakers and track suits so they can make a quick run for it if they have to. The schools themselves are guarded. When school is over at 3:00pm, everyone leaves, There are no extracurricular activities.

When frightened teacher leave or are transfered out finding anyone wiling to take their place is difficult even with extra money for hazardous duty. Many teachers carry pistols with them everywhere, even in their classrooms and keep a police radio handy to keep track of what is going on and call for help if necessary. One principal interviewed by the Washington Post drove to work with a pistol under his shirt, a hunting knife on his right and a shotgun on his left in car riddled with bullets from an earlier attack. A common conversation topic is news about the latest attacks. Weekends are often spent by educators at the shooting range honing their gun skills. One survey found that 90 percent of male teachers carry a gun and 30 percent of female ones do.

Teachers are told never to go anywhere alone. Some have been killed running some quick errands or going to a market without a military escort. Both teachers and their escorts have been killed in ambushes and roadside bomb attacks, Even though the schools are guarded, teachers don’t regard them as safe. One teacher said, “Whenever someone we don’t know comes to our school, parents or whoever, we keep our eye on them. We don’t know who is who. I’m scared. I’m really scared.”.

So many teachers fled their jobs class sizes have doubled and math teachers have been forced to teach social studies and social studies teachers have been forced to teach math. After one attack all the schools in Pattani Province were closed indefinitely..

Attacks on Muslims in Thailand’s Muslim South

In response to attacks by Muslim insurgents, non-Muslim vigilantes and death squads have killed Muslim leaders, set fire to dozens of buildings belonging Muslims and opening fire on mosques. Muslim insurgents have attacked fellow Muslims viewed as collaborators or informers. They have also staged attacks as acts of intimidation and to create divisions between Muslim groups. Sometimes when Muslims are the victims it is not clear who carried out the attacks: Muslim insurgents attacking collaborators, Buddhist death squads attacking Muslim sympathizers, rogue security forces, or someone else,

One army officer told AP, “The insurgents wanted to scare Muslims who may want to cooperate with authorities in quelling violence. They want to cause strife between Muslims and make the communities distrustful of each other.” A Muslim leader said, “The insurgents are challenging the authorities...They want the government to respond with heavy handiness,” which would result in Muslims joining the insurgency.

One Muslim village chief whose son was killed by militants told Human Rights Watch, “The militants do not like me. After the attack, my villagers look down on me. They said, ‘I could not protect my own son, then how could I protect them?’ Some of them even think that it might be practical to give support to the militants to ensure their safety.”

Dead Muslim have included suspected insurgents killed by soldiers and police and Muslims killed by insurgents or identified gunmen. In September 2006, AFP reported: “Suspected Islamic militants killed three Muslim men and wounded four others in gun and bomb attacks in southern Thailand. A 45-year-old Muslim man was shot dead as he rode home from a local mosque on a motorcycle in Pattani province. His eight-year-old son who was on the motorcycle was injured. The same day the body of Muslim villagers who had been shot, were found in Narathiwat Province. A day later a 70-year-old Muslim man was shot dead as he left his house for morning prayers in Yala Province. In the same province a 32-year-old Muslim woman lost her leg after she stepped on a land mine planted in a rubber plantation.

In March 2006, a Muslim suspected of suffering from mental illness smashed a Hindu statue—a four-faced image of Brahma— worshipped by people of many religions with a hammer and was then beaten to death. In March 2007, attackers hurled explosives and opened fire on an Islamic school in Pattani Province, killing three students and sparking a riot. Villagers blamed government-backed death squads. Police said Muslim insurgents did it to stir up animosity. In April 2007, attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a mosque in Yala Province, injuring 16 people who were worshipping at the time. A month earlier an attack on an Islamic school left several people dead. In February 2008, a gunman opened fire inside a mosque in Pattani, killing a Muslim politician that had gathered with dozens of others for evening prayer. Many think the attack was politically motivated and not linked with the Muslim insurgency.

In early June 2009, ten individuals were killed during an attack on at the Al-Furqan Mosque in Cho-airong (Joh-I-Rong) district in Narathawat Province on June 8, 2009. The attack was carried out by gunmen with automatic weaons. Among the dead was the imam leading prayers at the time of the attack. Many of the injured were in serious condition. At least one later died. The army blamed separatist militants but villagers said security forces were responsible.

Mark Magnier wrote in Los Angeles Times: “Malay Muslim Khaliyoh Halee, 33, recalls the day in April 2004 when her 63-year-old father headed out for prayers. A few hours later, his body was torn apart by an army grenade after insurgents tried to take over the local Krue Se mosque. She still doesn't know whether he was part of a secret cell or got caught in the wrong place. But his death left a huge emptiness. "I'm tired of crying," she said. "Still, it's difficult to find a way out of all this. Both sides are so uncompromising." [Source: Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times April 4, 2010]

Shooting Attacks and Drive-By Motorcycle Shootings in the Muslim South

Gunmen have carried out drive-by shootings and ambushes and have burst into public places and gunned people down. There have been a number of drive-by shootings by Muslim militants on motorcycles against police and soldiers. Sometimes gun men have opened fire on an ambushed patrol vehicle disabled by a roadside bomb or by a bomb thrown from the road. Other times they have opened fire on the trucks carrying workers or soldiers stopped by tire spikes or a downed tree. In attacks on cars the attackers have opened all the doors to make sure they got good shots at the passengers before fleeing.

Policemen and soldiers have been attacked as they guarded railway stations, schools and government buildings. Targeted soldiers and politicians have been approached while they were shopping in busy markets and shot at point blank range. In some cases gunmen have mowed down entire families. In November 2005, suspected Muslim insurgents stormed two houses in the Tangae district of Narathiwat Province and killed four men and one woman and four children.

In some gun attacks the victims have been on motorcycles. In March 2009, Reuters reported that suspected separatist militants shot dead two Buddhist s and set their bodies ablaze in Pattani Province. The two men, brothers aged 40 and 36, were killed as they rode a motorcycle, Police said: “The victims were shot by an AK rifle, and the insurgents left a note saying, ‘This is revenge on state officials.’” One of the victims was an assistant village headman.

In other gun attacks the attackers have been on motorcycles. In August 2009, AP reported that two attackers on a motorcycle shot and killed a security guard who was going home after his night shift at a rubber processing factory in Pattani Province.”

In July 2009, three people were shot dead by suspected Muslim insurgents in southern Thailand. In Pattani Province, a 40-year-old Buddhist man was killed in a drive-by shooting while shopping at a grocery store. Later the same day gunmen shot dead two 17-year-old Muslim boys riding motorcycles in Narathiwat Province. Their death was blamed on fighting between separatist groups.

Attacks on Rubber Plantation Workers

in the Muslim South

In January 2007, Muslim inusurgents shot and killed three Buddhist laborers on their way to work at a rubber plantation in Songkhla Province, which up that point had not seen much violence, raising concerns the violence might be spreading.

In February 2009, in Raman district, Yala, a civilian couple engaged in tapping rubber were killed and the man beheaded. The couple were shot dead on their motorcycle as they were on their way to tap rubber. The police said: “The husband was then beheaded and his head was left about 50 meters away.” The same month three rubber tappers-a Muslim woman and two Buddhist men—were hot dead in Yala Province. Two others were wounded in the ambush. The day before a 54-year-old man was killed in a drive-bu shooting. [Source: Reuters, AFP]

In July 2009, a Buddhist rubber tapper and his wife were shot on their way to work in Pattani province's Khok Pho district. Two policemen and a soldier were then wounded as they went to the scene of the shooting.

In July 2011, three people were shot dead near a rubber plantation in the Raman district of Yala Province. Three Muslim rubber merchants were buying rubber from local rubber farmers when gunmen in a pickup fired at the merchants with automatic weapons and stole 300,000 baht (about $10,000. It wasn’t clear whether the event was insurgent attack or a robbery. Earlier at least 10 people were injured by two explosions apparently planted by insurgents at a rubber plantation the district.

In September 2012, the Bangkok Post reported: “Two rubber tappers were shot and killed at a rubber plantation in Raman district of Yala province. They were identified as Mudor Malee, 60, and his wife Sama Sohsu, 61, residents of Moo 3, tambon Balor of Raman district. Witnesses told police they heard gunfire inside rubber plantation near the village early this morning, but no one dared go out ro see what was happening. Police believed the couple were tapping latex when gunmen shot them down using 9mm and .22 calibre handguns. The killers then fled. They blamed separatist militants. [Source: Bangkok Post, September 28, 2012]

In January 2023, in Pattani's Khok Pho district, a 78-year-old Muslim rubber grower was shot dead while taking a ritual bath. Pol Col Suchart Asawin, said police received a report of a shooting at a house in tambon Khok Pho about 7am. Officers sent to the scene found the body of Rorham Dorlor, who was shot in the head. Meenoh Mahmu, 68, the victim's wife, told police that her husband was taking a ritual bath at a pond next to their house in the early morning when it was still dark. She heard a gunshot. When she went outside the house she found her husband had been slain. Police said Rorham had regularly exhorted youths in the area not to be involved in drugs. [Source: Bangkok Post, January 17, 2013]

Beheadings, Burned Bodies and Crucifixions in Thailand’s Deep South

Some of the attacks have been quite brutal, with corpses sometimes mutilated or savagely stabbed. Corpses are often left in streets or other public areas where passersby find them. Some victims have been beheaded. Some times the body and head have been together. Other times they have been apart. Often a note has been placed by the head or body. One time a ice cream vendor was shot three times had his head was hacked off. His headless body was placed on the bicycle seat of his cart. Another time two gunmen walked into a tea shop, gunned down a Buddhist cloth merchant, cut off his head and placed it in a sack outside. The head of a policeman’s son was found in a sack by the side of he road. His body was never found.

As of August 2008, 30 people, both Muslim and Buddhist, had been beheaded. The notes left behind were often warnings to Buddhists to leave the area. A note found with a rubber plantation worker who was shot and beheaded read: “You crazy Buddhists. We will continue to kill you all unless you leave our land.” In October 2006, a Burmese immigrant worker was beheaded in front of his teenage daughter and his head was set on the side of street. When police tried to retrieve it a remote-controlled bomb was set off.

In February 2009, suspected Muslim rebels killed and then decapitated two Thai paramilitary rangers in Yala Province after 10 soldiers came under attack as they returned to their base after escorting teachers to a local school. "They were both shot dead while they were riding out of the village and were then decapitated," a policeman told Reuters. The head of one of the soldiers, a Muslim, was removed from the scene, while that of his Buddhist colleague was burnt along with his body and motorbike, the officer said. There was no claim of responsibility. AFP reportedly that the victims became separated from their group. By the time they were found they had been decapitated. [Source: Reuters, AFP, February 2, 2009]

Many victims have been hacked to death with machetes and axes. Other victims have been burned after they were killed. In March 2009, in Pattani, two middle-aged brothers, one an assistant village headman, were shot dead as they rode a motorcycle, after which their bodies were set ablaze and a note was left at the scene: 'This is revenge on state officials'. [Source: Amnesty International]

There have also been gruesome crucifixions. In November 2007, AFP reported: “A Muslim military informant was shot and crucified, while two Buddhist men were beheaded by suspected Islamic separatists. The Muslim man, a 58-year-old who belonged to a government-backed militia, was shot and then stabbed so badly that he was nearly decapitated, police Lieutenant Khanchitthol Kreunor told AFP. [Source: AFP, November 28, 2007=]

“Suspected rebels then drove six-inch nails through his head, arms and legs to attach him to two pieces of wood, which were laid out like a cross in the middle of a road in Rueso district of Narathiwat province, near the southern border with Malaysia, he said. Khanchitthol said police found a note written in Thai and left near the cross, reading: "This is what the infidels deserve. The soldier dogs must meet this end." "The victim was attacked and killed in such a grisly way because they knew he was a military informant. This is to terrify the people," Khanchitthol said. About two hours later, two Buddhist fishmongers aged 20 and 61 were shot and then beheaded in another district of Narathiwat, police said. =

Attacks on Infrastructure Targets and Revenge Attacks in the Muslim South

In March 2005, a 10-kilogram bomb detonated with a mobile phone exploded at a station and blew one carriage off the track. Insurgents hiding near the station then opened fire on passengers before fleeing. In July 2005, at least 60 insurgents plunged Yala city into darkness by destroying electrical transformers and then roamed the streets with fire bombs, explosives and guns, targeting an area with a hotel, two convenience stores and a restaurant, and the railway station.

In November 2005, a series of explosions knocked out electricity and rocked parts of the southern Thai city of Narwthiwa. In March 2006, a blast from a bomb planted on a railroad track in southern Songkha Province killed three police.

In September 2005, a firefight broke out a Muslim tea shop in Tanyonglimo in Narathiwat that left two villagers dead and four others dead. Hundreds of villagers, who blamed government security forces for the incident, responded by pulling two Thai marines from their car when they passed and held them hostage .The next day the bound, gagged and blindfolded marines were brutally beaten to death with machetes and sticks. The military responded with an intensive manhunt and detained eight suspects and used the incidents as an excuse to crackdown on Muslims. Many villagers in Tanyonglimo taken from their homes and detained for a week.

Bombing Attacks in the Muslim South

Thousands of bombing attacks have been carried out against schools, police stations, car and motorcycle dealerships, karaokes, entertainment venues, department stores, government offices, hotels, schools, restaurants, banks, gasoline stations, power stations and markets. Most of the attacks are believed to have been carried out by Muslims against Buddhist targets. The bombs have often been detonated by devises hooked up to cell phones or digital watches. Most of the bombs have been small, weighing three to five kilograms.

Sometimes a small bomb is set off, Then when a crowd gathers to check out the damage, a larger, more deadly bomb is detonated. Other times a bomb is placed near a dead body and detonated when police car stops to check out the body. Many attacks consist of a series of bombs planted in different places all detonated around the same time.

The attackers often have placed bombs in motorcycle and cars. Sometimes they have been put in garbage bins, piles of fruit, or telephone booths. Security cameras that have showed bombs being planted at banks, revealed that some of the explosives were planet by women.There have been a few but not many suicide bomb attacks.

Motorcycle bomb attacks became a fixture of the violence in southern Thailand. In December 2009, two suspected insurgents on a motorcycle fired into a restaurant in Narathiwat’s main town. A remote-controlled bomb, concealed in a second motorcycle, then detonated, killing three women.

Bombing Attacks in the Muslim South in 2006, 2007 and 2008

In June 2006, 48 bombs were detonated on a single day in a series of attacks in Narathiwatm Pattani and Yala Provinces, killing two and wounding 24. The bombs all went off between 8:30 and and 9:00am as people headed to work One bomb went off at a government building minutes before a deputy prime minister arrived. The attack occurred just two days before the celebration for 60th year of King Bhumibol’s reign.

In September 2006, five people were killed, including a Canadian teacher, and dozens more were injured when a series of blasts from five bombs ripped through three department stores in Hat Yai in Songkhla Province. Hat Yai is the main commercial center of southern Thailand. The attack occurring just hours after the military staged a peace rally. The bombs were planted in motorbikes and detonated at the same time—9:15am. Two bombs went off in front of a pub and parking lot at one department store. A third, the most deadly one, went off at a nearby massage parlor. The forth bomb went off at a second department store. The fifth one went off in a rest room in a third department store. One government soldier was killed in a bombing in the town of Narathiwat on October 22, 2006.

In February 2007, eight people were killed and at least 50 were wounded during a series of attacks that took place as thousands were celebrating the Chinese New Year. The attacks consisted of 29 bombing in all four strife-torn provinces: Yala, Narathiwt, Pattani and Songkhla. The bombs were triggered with digital watches and went off between 7:15pm and 8:00pm. The targets were karaoke lounges, hotels, schools. gasoline stations and power stations. A government spokesman said, “The insurgents wanted to scare away Chinese businessmen from the region. That’s why they attacked on Sunday, the day that Chinese people celebrate after they pay homage to their ancestors, The insurgents do not want people of other religions to live with them.”

In September 2008, 22 bombs exploded roughly simultaneously at commercial banks in Yala Province, killing two and inuring 28. The bombs, many of which were planted by women, were placed in garbage bins, newspapers stands and near seats where customers waited for service. The attack coincided with the national day of Malaysia and the founding day of Bersatu.

Roadside Bomb Attacks in the Muslim South

The insurgents have often used roadside bombs like those used in Iraq and Afghanistan. One 10-kilogram device that killed one soldiers and injured five was placed in a fire extinguisher on a bridge and detonated by a wire from a nearby plantation. Bombs planted outside the Justice Ministry and the home of a governor in Narathiwat were blamed on Muslim insurgents.

On June 1, 2007, 18 people were killed on a single day in one of the worst outbursts of violence, Eleven paramilitary troops were killed by a roadside bombthat exploded in Bannang district of Yala Province. On June 15, seven government soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Yala Province.

In January 2008, eight soldiers were killed in an ambush during a morning patrol in the Chanae district of Narathiwat Province. Attackers fired a barrage of bullets on a truck flipped over by a roadside bomb. There were no survivors. One soldier was beheaded.

In February 2009, a powerful roadside bomb killed three police officers, including a midranking officer, in Pattani's Nong Chik district, hours after suspected insurgents shot dead three local people. The Nation reported: “The attacker targeted the second of a two vehicle convoy of officers that was speeding through tambon Takamcha, police said. Also in Pattani, a 40yearold Muslim deputy village chief was gunned down in a driveby attack, shortly after two other men, aged 29 and 45, were shot dead in front of a school nearby. The roadside bomb, estimated to have been about 15 kilograms in weight, totally destroyed the military pickup truck and left a three- metre wide and one-metre deep crater in the road. The bomb was set off by a remote control via mobile phone by suspected insurgents who were hiding in the bush on the side of the road, police said. "This was a retaliation against the progress that the authorities have made in winning the local population over against the insurgents," said Pol MajGeneral Kreerin Intrakoew, commander of Pattani Provincial Police.[Source: The Nation, February 13, 2009]

In September 2012, residents of Meeding Village in Raman district in Yala noticed some electric wires under the surface of a road and alerted the police, who removed and defused 20-kilogram bomb from the site. A police source said militants might be targeting soldiers who were scheduled to visit the village to help a disabled woman. "Had the locals not tipped off the police, the troops might have been hurt or killed," he said. Sofwan Sama, the chief of operations for the insurgency, might have been responsible, he said. [Source: The Nation September 7, 2011]

Car Bomb Attacks

in the Muslim South

In 2008 the southern Thailand experienced its first car bomb attack. In October 2008, three bombs detonated at a tea stall and shopping area in Narathiwat Province, killing one person and wounding at least 71. The bomb at the tea stall was placed inside a garbage bin and exploded just as a meeting of about 300 village chiefs was letting out. The two others exploded at a busy fruit market around lunch time. One bomb was planted in a car. The other in a motorcycle.

In August 2009, one border policeman was killed and 12 other people were wounded when a powerful car bomb exploded in the town of Yala. The bomb, estimated to contain 50 kilograms of explosives, was hidden in a pickup truck and detonated near several parked police trucks, where police were having breakfast.

In late August 2009, a powerful car bomb ripped through a restaurant packed with government officials in Narathiwat Province, wounding at least 42 people, the army said. AFP reported: “The blast was one of the most serious for months. The 50-kilogram (110-pound) device was hidden inside a stolen Toyota pick-up truck and exploded during the busy lunch hour in the centre of Narathiwat, the main town in the province of the same name, officials said. "It's very horrible. We had intelligence that militants would mount a large-scale attack," Lieutenant General Pichet Wisaichorn, the southern region army commander, told reporters. He said that seven of the 42 people injured in the blast were in a critical condition. Most of the wounded were Buddhist government officials. [Source: AFP, August 25, 2009]

Car Bomb Attack in Yala in March 2012 Kills 14 Injures 340

In March 2012, fourteen people were killed and 340 were injured when car bombs were detonated in Yala City. AP reported; “ Suspected Muslim insurgents staged the most deadly coordinated attacks in years in Thailand’s restive south with car bombs that targeted Saturday shoppers and a high-rise hotel frequented by foreign tourists. A first batch of explosives planted inside a parked pickup truck ripped through an area of restaurants and shops in a busy area of Yala city, a main commercial hub of Thailand’s restive southern provinces, said district police chief Col. Kritsada Kaewchandee. About 20 minutes later, just as onlookers gathered at the blast site, a second car bomb exploded, causing the majority of casualties. Eleven people were killed and 110 wounded by the blasts. [Source: Sumeth Panpetch, Associated Press, April 1, 2012++]

“This is the worst attack in the past few years,” said Col. Pramote Promin, deputy spokesman of a regional security agency. “The suspected insurgents were targeting people’s lives. They [chose] a bustling commercial area, so they wanted to harm people.” Most attacks are small-scale bombings or drive-by shootings that target soldiers, police and symbols of authority, but suspected insurgents also have staged large attacks in commercial areas. A blast also occurred Saturday at a high-rise hotel in the city of Hat Yai, in the nearby province of Songkhla. Officials initially had attributed that blast to a gas leak, saying it was unrelated to the attacks blamed on insurgents. But after inspecting the hotel’s underground parking lot, authorities found a severely damaged sedan and a hole created by the explosion’s impact. ++

The midday explosion at the 405-room Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel, where throngs of Malaysian and Singaporean tourists spend their weekends, killed three people and caused about 230 injuries, mostly from smoke inhalation, said police Lt. Puwadon Wiriyawarangkun. Regional police chief Lt. Gen. Jakthip Chaijinda said the Hat Yai incident “is likely related to what happened in Yala and might have been plotted by the same group of insurgents.”++

Police said the blast that occurred at the underground level of the hotel ripped the building’s cooking gas pipeline, causing a fire that sent smoke spiraling into the upper floors and trapping many people in their rooms until rescuers came. One of the fatalities was identified as a Malaysian tourist. A McDonald’s restaurant on the hotel’s ground floor appeared to have suffered heavy damage from the blast. The hotel also was targeted in 2006, when four people, including a Canadian man, were killed by six bombs that had been planted on Hat Yai’s main street. ++

According to to Deep South Watch: Attackers detonated a car bomb in Yala Province near the intersection between Jongrak Road and Ruammit Road (in front of the Rung Rueang Boiled Rice Restaurant), causing damage to many rows of building. The force of the explosion caused secondary explosion of a van fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). When officials came to assist at the scene, attackers then detonated the explosive planted on a car in front of a 7-Eleven store near the entrance to Park View Hotel. The explosion caused 10 deaths and 127 persons injured. On the same day at approximately 1300 hours at Hat Yai District, Songkla Province, while local residents and tourists were shopping at Lee Garden Plaza shopping center, a violent explosion occurred and smoke blew out from the basement, which served as the shopping mall's parking lot. Local people and tourists ran to save their own lives in a state of panic, and a large number of people were trapped inside the mall. Officials had to quickly extinguish the fire and save those who were trapped inside. When the fire was under control and officials came to investigate the scene, a sedan was found to be ripped in 2 pieces by the force of the explosion. The blast also created a hole of approximately 2 meters in width on the floor of the parking area, and caused damage to hundreds of cars parked nearby. Officials made a conclusion that the explosion was caused by attackers who planted a car bomb at the mall, as the attack had similar characteristics to the attack in Yala Province. The event results in 5 deaths and 354 persons injured, including ordinary citizens and Malaysian tourists. [Source: Srisompob Jitpiromsri, DeepSouthWatch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity (CSCD), Prince of Songkla University Pattani Campus, December 23, 2012]

Deep South Watch reported: The two attacks events caused the total number of casualties for the month of March 2012 to be the highest monthly casualty since the conflict began in 2004. Earlier in the month four soldiers were killed by suspected Islamic militants in Nararthiwat Province and ten individuals were killed in explosions in Yala Province.

Living With Attacks by Muslim Separatists

A Muslim villager told the Times of London, “From the moment I get dressed and go out, I’m afraid and I don’t know what I’m afraid of. Every day someone is gunned down and killed. We don’t know who is doing it or what the reason.”

One teacher told the New York Times, “When the sun sets, everything gets dark in the village and everyone shuts the doors and windows...Its frightening just to go to the market, people around here are getting killed, just ordinary people, like workers going to and from work.” Another teacher said, “When you are driving, you keeplooking around. If a motorcycle comes close to your car you speed up. If your instinct tells you something is wrong, turn you car into them, attack them before they attack you.”

Another teacher told the New York Times, “Our whole culture is changing. Everything happens in daylight. At night, everybody stays at home.” Traditional evening funeral ceremonies have been shifted to the afternoon. Dinner invitations are rarely issued.

A Muslim villager told the Washington Post, the Buddhist “are scared to talk to us. The leaders who have lived here for almost 100 years say they’ve never seen anything like this before.” A Thai general said, “For almost 30 years, I’ve been working in the south on and off...I’ve seen personal relationships fall apart. Neighbors who have lived next door to each other look at each other with suspicion.”

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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