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Thai military says martial law in south will not be lifted

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Sumeth Panpetch, Associated Press

Following the insurgent attack that killed 15 volunteers at a security checkpoint earlier this week, the Army says it’s not planning to lift the emergency laws currently in place in the south of the country.

The attack is believed to have been carried out by a militant group identified as the BRN or National Revolution Front, widely regarded as the most powerful of the Islamic insurgency groups active in the region.

The three southern provinces, bordering Malaysia, have been the scene of brazen and brutal attacks on officials, soldiers, volunteers and innocent civilians for nearly two decades. Nearly 7,000 people have already died in the ongoing border and religious clashes.

Int he latest incident, insurgents struck on Tuesday night at 11.30pm, raining bullets on the checkpoint and hurling spikes and grenades. The 15 people who died in the attack were mostly defence volunteers, guarding the checkpoint that stood surrounded by rubber plantations. They were sitting ducks, ambushed in a well-planned surprise attack.

The Bangkok Post reports that, in the wake of the atrocity, 4th Army chief Phonsak Phunsawat says emergency laws in place in the region will remain in force. He was responding to calls to review the region’s martial law in light of “possible human rights violations”.

In response, Lieutenant General Phonsak called the insurgents’ actions “an attack on human rights”, adding that despite the government’s attempts to resolve the crisis through dialogue, security laws needed to remain in place while militants are clearly still active.

“This attack is an indication that militants use violence indiscriminately, and we call on the public to examine their activities, which are tantamount to violations of human rights.”

The leader of the Prachachat Party, Wan Muhamed Nor Matha also condemned the attack but criticised the government, calling for the emergency laws to be revoked and for peace talks to be stepped up as a matter of urgency. He argues that security should be handled by police and local leaders as opposed to the army.

Security officials believe that up to 60 people may have been involved in the attacks and that local villages are likely harbouring the fugitives.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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