Friday, February 18, 2005

Bomb kills four as Thai PM leaves restive region

A bomb has exploded outside a hotel in southern Thailand, killing four people and wounding up to 40 just two hours after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cut short a trip to the restive region.

"At present there are four people dead and 24 injured, including two critically," police Superintendent Surasak Romyanon said.

Another police officer on the scene, Lieutenant Colonel Vek Suwanarach, says the number of injured has risen to 40 after the bomb detonated in a pick-up truck outside Sungai Kolok's Marina Hotel.

"All the dead are males and appeared Asian," he said, although the nationalities of the victims could not be immediately established.

Sungai Kolok is a town along the Malaysian border whose nightlife district is routinely visited by scores of Malaysian tourists.

A wedding party attended by a number of local police had gathered on the third floor of the hotel.

However, it is not immediately clear if wedding attendees are among the victims.

Thaksin's visit

The bomb, the fifth blast to rock southern Thailand in 48 hours, came just two hours after Mr Thaksin flew out of the deep south.

He has cut short by a day his first trip to the Muslim-dominated region since his party won a landslide re-election earlier this month.

During his visit, Mr Thaksin vowed to crush the Islamic separatist revolt in the south within four years, after unveiling plans to cut off funding to pro-rebel villages.

He says he would cut funding to more than 350 villages deemed to be sympathetic to the fighters.

"I will eradicate it (the separatist movement) within the next four years," the period of his second term, Mr Thaksin said?

"We must be decisive today otherwise we will not be able to crack down on them."?

But at your peril and by destabilising the country with the extreme example of killing people taken into custody why is there any question that people will resist your atrocious human rights record?

The revolt has left more than 590 people dead since January last year?

Despotic approach

Surrounded by a massive security detail, the Premier appeared to signal a new, harder approach to resistance fighters reminiscent of his 2003 anti-drugs policy.

That policy stirred controversy for its strongarm tactics after the "drugs war" claimed at least 2,500 lives.

Mr Thaksin says that areas prone to unrest and judged to be sympathetic to militants would be identified as "red zones" and denied crucial government funding.

"I don't want money going towards supporting insurgents in red-zone villages, to be used to buy bombs and guns," said.

"I won't accept them here and I will do everything to keep our sovereignty."

Mr Thaksin says of 1,580 villages in the three southern-most provinces, 358 are listed as "red", including some 200 in Narathiwat alone.

Two hundred are deemed "yellow", meaning there is moderate resistance to the state but most residents disagree with the governments cause. The rest are "green" areas where 90 per cent of residents are forced to abide by the law or die.

Mr Thaksin says he hopes the policy could pressure villagers into informing on militants or severing ties with them?

But unfortunately if you kill people that protest against your policies then the result is resistance. You only get out what you put in and if you don't put anything in you don't get anything out.

Scores of Thai Muslims Killed in Police Custody

BANGKOK, October 26 ( & News Agencies) – Some 78 Muslim protestors were confirmed killed Tuesday, October26 , while in police detention, bringing the death toll from clashes that erupted in southern Thailand a day earlier to at least84 . “After we brought people who were arrested into detention, we found that another 78 people were dead,” said Manit Suthaporn, deputy permanent secretary from the Thai justice ministry, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported. “According to the investigation of the dead bodies, they died because of suffocation.”

By Human Rights Abuse 18 February 04