Southern Thailand experienced some of its worst violence to date yesterday
when seven worshippers were killed when suspected insurgents fired into a mosque
and a roadside bomb killed 11 paramilitary troops almost simultaneously, the
The bomb exploded Thursday on a road in the Bannang Sata district in Yala
province as government-hired paramilitary rangers drove by, killing 10 of them
instantly, said Thai Army spokesman Col. Akara Thiprote. Another ranger died
later at the hospital.
Almost immediately after the bombing, an unknown number of assailants opened
fire on a group of Muslim villagers leaving a mosque after evening prayers in
nearby Sabayoi district of Songkhla province, killing five villagers at the
scene, Akara said. Two others died later at the hospital.
It was not immediately clear why the worshippers were attacked but officials
blamed Muslim rebels.
"The insurgents opened fire on the Muslim villagers and put the blame on the
authorities ... They want to create an impression that authorities cannot take
care of the Muslim people in the area," Akara said. "Worse still, they want
people to think the authorities did it to poison the relationship between the
government and the local population."
Thai military authorities have blamed such attacks on Muslims bent on
intensifying hatred against the government and to radicalize Muslims and push
them into joining the insurgency.
Some Muslims believe the security forces, or even Buddhist vigilantes, might
have a hand in the attacks.
Since a Muslim rebellion flared in the three southernmost provinces in early
2004, near-daily bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks have killed more
than 2,200 people.