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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-315462 Thailand / Violence
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=04/29/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=THAILAND VIOLENCE (L)

NUMBER=2-315462

BYLINE=HEDA BAYRON

DATELINE=HONG KONG

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Security in southern Thailand remains extremely tight a day after deadly clashes between government soldiers and militants killed at least 107 people. V-O-A's Heda Bayron reports from our Asia News Center in Hong Kong, human rights groups are demanding an investigation into Thailand's worst violence in recent years.

TEXT: Thai Army troops fanned around mostly-Muslim southern Thailand, as officials warned of further attacks.

Wednesday's pre-dawn raids on security posts were carried out by mostly young men wielding machetes. Police and soldiers - working on advanced intelligence - thwarted the attackers in a massively bloody exercise.

Heavy fighting also destroyed a mosque in Pattani -- where government soldiers cornered some 30 militants.

Residents are shocked, angry and worried about their security.

/// UMAR SOUND IN THAI, FADE UNDER ///

Umar bin Yussof, of the Pattani Islamic Council, says killing in a mosque is really bad.

Nisen Nilae is the caretaker of the mosque.

/// NISEN ACT IN THAILAND, FADE UNDER ///

He says God has punished the bad guys. He hopes peace and prosperity will now return to Pattani.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra blamed the attacks on bandits trying to steal weapons. But others suspect Muslim militants. The regional terror group, Jemaah Islamiyah, is believed to have been operating in southern Thailand.

In Bangkok, human rights groups condemned the incident. Gothom Arya is secretary general of Forum Asia - a regional human rights group.

/// ARYA ACT ///

We urge the government to fully investigate what happened and explain why there has been so high casualty.

/// END ACT ///

The recent spate of violence in the south began in January - prompting the government to declare martial law and residents to complain of heavy handed tactics against Muslims in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

/// REST OPT ///

Thursday, neighboring Malaysia expressed concern over the events and heightened security along the border. Some countries, including Malaysia, Britain and the United States have advised citizens against travel to the area. (Signed)

NEB/HK/HB/JJ



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