Thai Separatists Train with Indonesia Militants
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Monday, May 23, 2022

Thai Separatists Train with Indonesia Militants

By Sutin Wannabovorn/AP Writer Monday, July 4, 2005


Thai Muslim insurgents have stockpiled more than 7,000 firearms and trained with Indonesian militants to wreak violence in southern Thailand, a former regional army commander said Monday.


Retired Army Gen Kitti Rattanachaya, who was praised for maintaining the peace in southern Thailand during the 1990s and has been a security adviser to the current administration, said the government's mishandling of the situation could cause it to deteriorate.


"There is still no light at the end of the tunnel. Eighteen months after the government started deploying massive numbers of troops into the region, the situation is getting worse," Kitti told the Associated Press.


"The separatist movement has complete control of the people. Only the land belongs to us, but the people belong to the movement, 100 percent."


A decades-old Muslim separatist movement in the deep south of Thailand died down in the late-1980s after the government granted an arms amnesty.

The violence surged again early last year, resulting in more than 880 deaths during the past 18 months.


The southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala are the only Muslim majority areas in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Southerners have long complained of discrimination in education and jobs.


Kitti said the separatists have stockpiled more than 7,000 guns, many of which have been stolen from the army and police, including in an attack on an army camp that launched the latest wave of attacks.


A group of armed men on Jan. 4, 2004, stormed a camp in Narathiwat, killing four soldiers and stealing more than 400 weapons, mostly assault rifles. The raid prompted the government to deploy more than 50,000 soldiers in the region.


Kitti cited intelligence sources as saying that at least seven Indonesian Muslim militants have gone to the south to provide military training for the Thai insurgents.

"Things are getting worse because the government doesn't accept the fact that this is a movement of terrorists and separatists," he said.


Downplaying the adviser's remarks, Defense Minister Thammarak Isarangura said the situation is under control, and that locals will be trained to defend themselves against the militants.


"The situation is calming down, and in some areas, daily attacks on innocent people have decreased by 50 percent," Thammarak said.


Regional police statistics show from January to June 20, there were at least 207 deaths and 601 people injured from hit-and-run attacks by gunmen on motorcycles, bombings and beheadings.


Thammarak said the troops that have been deployed have been unable to fight the insurgency effectively because they are trained to fight in the jungle, not in cities and villages.

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