Thai Government Warns of More Bombings in South

Posted April 2nd, 2012 at 4:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Authorities in Thailand on Monday warned of more attacks in the country's insurgency-plagued south after identifying suspects in a series of bombings last week that killed 14 people and wounded more than 300 others.

Police say Saturday's attacks, which occurred in shopping and business areas, were the work of a hard core insurgent group operating in Yala province.

Provincial officials said a pickup truck exploded around lunchtime in Yala city's business area, tearing through a street of restaurants and stores packed with shoppers ahead of Thailand's upcoming New Year holidays.

In nearby Songkhla province, a blast targeted a hotel complex.

Bombings against civilians or state officials are a common tactic of Islamic separatists who have been waging an insurgency in the largely Muslim provinces of Yala, Songkhla, Pattani, and Narathiwat since 2004. The conflict has claimed more than 5,000 lives, despite massive spending on security operations.

But analysts say that by targeting commercial areas in the latest attacks, the insurgents appear to be trying to undermine the local economy.

Thai authorities declared a state of emergency in 2005, granting the military wide powers of arrest and detention. But the emergency law has also triggered allegations of rights abuses by security forces.

Many in the south complain of discrimination by the central government. Calls by moderate Islamic groups and human rights organizations for a decentralization of power have been dismissed by security officials, who say such moves threaten national unity.