More troops for southern Thailand troubles

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Sunday, October 9, 2005

The Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, despatched an additional 1,000 troops to the south of the country to help deal with the widespread violence. This brings the total number of security forces operating in the three troubled provinces to approximately 30,000.

Mr. Shinawatra's recent visit to the region was followed by further shootings. In Narathiwat Province a 40 year old village worker was shot while helping a neighbour repair a fence. Friday saw the shooting of an assistant village head in Yala Province, and an elderly couple were shot in Pattani Province whilst returning from a local market.

The insurgency and campaign for an independent Muslim state in the southern provinces has resulted in an exodus from the area. Estimates put the number of Thai Buddhists who have fled the area at 34,000. There are also some reports that Muslim inhabitants of the area have been seeking refuge in Malaysia.

The state of emergency imposed last month has had a mixed reception. Largely favoured by Buddhists in the provinces, this grants additional powers to the Prime Minister and follows on from martial law having been in place since January 2004. Despite these security measures, over 1,000 people have died in the insurgency.