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Military


Thailand Islamic Insurgency

2005-2006

In February 2005, the Thailand Cabinet approved establishing a new infantry division of 12,000 troops to be based permanently in southern Thailand, where violence blamed on Muslim insurgents had claimed more than 650 lives in the past year. On 17 February 2005 in southern Thailand a bomb exploded near a tourist hotel in the border town of Sungai Kolok, killing 5 people and wounding over 40. Thailand police reported 4 more people killed in surging violence in the Muslim south. Prime Minister Shinawatra defended his hard-line policies and accused his critics of sympathizing with separatists.

On 3 April 2005 in southern Thailand, 2 near-simultaneous bombs exploded, including one at the airport in Hat Yai city killing one person and wounding a dozen. In another event on 24 April 2005, suspected Islamic separatists detonated a bomb, killing 2 police officers and wounding 3 other people.

Muslim insurgents struck again on 13 May 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded near a passing military truck, killing 2 Thai marines and seriously wounding 8 others.

On 14 July 2005, at least 60 insurgents plunged Yala city into darkness when they destroyed electrical transformers, then roamed the streets with fire-bombs, explosives and guns, targeting an area near a hotel, convenience stores, a restaurant and the railway station. Suspected Islamic separatists set off 5 bombs and exchanged gunfire with security personnel in an attack, killing a police officer and wounding nineteen other people. The government responded to this by granting Thailand Prime Minister Shinawatra sweeping powers to tap phones, directly command security forces, and order curfews. The government also granted immunity to security forces in emergency zones.

In October 2005, suspected Islamic insurgents shot and killed 5 soldiers as they ate dinner at a military outpost. On 16 October 2005, about 20 suspected Muslim separatists stormed a monastery, hacked an elderly Buddhist monk to death and fatally shot 2 temple boys. As a result of the attacks Thailand's Cabinet announced it was extending a state of emergency in 3 southern provinces to cope with the escalated Muslim insurgency. Soon after the announcement, suspected Muslim insurgents raided 60 targets in southern Thailand, in which they stole 90 weapons and caused at least 7 deaths.

In November 2005, several bombs exploded in Narathiwat, which killed one attacker and knocked out electricity. Thailand's government imposed martial law in 2 Muslim-dominated districts of its insurgency-wracked south, a day after Islamic separatists staged a new show of strength with bombings that blacked out a provincial capital. On 16 November 2005 suspected Muslim separatists stormed 2 houses in a southern village and opened fire on the families with assault rifles. They killed 9 people and injured 9 others.

On 10 May 2006, a bomb exploded at a tea shop near a busy market, which killed at least 3 people and injured more than a dozen.

In June 2006, Islamic separatists increased their attacks against the Thai government. On 15 June 2006, Muslim insurgents exploded more than 40 bombs, that killed at least 2 people, in attacks on government offices across the restive south. On 27 June 2006, 7 people were killed by suspected Islamic insurgents in attacks, including a bombing that left 5 security officers dead.

In August 2006, Muslim insurgents began using bombs more frequently. On 1 August 2006, assailants carried out at least 40 bomb and arson attacks in Thailand's 3 Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces. At least 3 people were reported hurt. The next day, a bomb planted along a railroad exploded and killed 3 policemen. On 31 August 2006, nearly 2 dozen bombs exploded almost simultaneously inside commercial banks, killing 2 people in a region bloodied by a Muslim insurgency.

On 16 September 2006, bomb blasts killed 4 people including a Canadian, who became the first Westerner to die in what was officially at that point a 2-year Muslim insurgency. At least 5 bombs exploded: 2 in department stores; 2 in front of a bar and a parking lot at the Odean Shopping Mall; and a fifth at a nearby massage parlor in Songkhla province's Hat Yai city.

On 19 September 2006, as the insurgency in the south continued, a 6-man military junta launched a coup against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, they circled his offices with tanks, seized control of TV stations and declared a provisional authority and pledged loyalty to the king. This was the 18th coup since 1932. General Prem Tinsulanonda was widely seen as the mastermind of the coup. This coup would begin to take a new stance on the Muslim insurgency.

On 18 October 2006, suspected Muslim insurgents attacked an army base and killed one soldier and left 4 others injured. Two days later Thailand's military government said it had extended emergency rule in the Muslim-majority south where another 21 people were killed that week despite moves to resolve bloody unrest.

November 2006 saw a rise in insurgent activities. On 5 November 2006, a bomb blast killed 2 soldiers and injured 3 others in the restive south. Four people were shot dead and 6 wounded in a string of shootings and simultaneous bomb attacks in the south. Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont apologized to Muslims for the government's failure to quell the long-running insurgency. Four days later, 8 bombs exploded almost simultaneously at car and motorcycle showrooms, which wounded 9 people. On 15 November 2006, suspected Islamic militants over the preceding 2 days shot dead 3 people in separate drive-by shootings, while one soldier was hurt in a bomb attack. On 17 November 2006, 3 bomb blasts killed one person and wounded at least 30 others. Five days later, a woman was shot and her body burnt in Narathiwat, while a second victim, believed to be Buddhist man, was shot several times in the face. A separatist leader said the Al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah extremist network was helping groups of young fighters stage attacks in Thailand's Muslim-majority south.

On 9 December 2006, a police informant who had survived 2 previous attacks by suspected Muslim insurgents was killed in a drive-by shooting in the restive south. On 29 December 2006, 2 teachers were shot and burned to death and a government worker gunned down in attacks blamed on Muslim insurgents. Two days later on 31 December 2006, 6 bomb blasts rocked Bangkok on New Years Eve and 3 more just after midnight. Three people were killed and 38 wounded. The city cancelled its major New Year's Eve celebrations just as revelers had begun to gather ahead of the countdown.




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