Thai marines kill 16 militants after attack on military base


At least 16 Muslim rebels have been killed after they launched a pre-dawn assault on a military base in the south of Thailand in the deadliest incident in an insurgency that has raged for almost a decade.

Officials said that around 50 to 60 insurgents, some of them wearing military uniforms, attacked the base in Narathiwat, located close to the border with Malaysia and just a few hours drive from some of southern Thailand’s most popular resorts. No soldiers were reported to have been hurt in the ensuring gun-battle and troops claimed they had been tipped off about the attack in advance.

“What we know so far is at least 60 armed insurgents opened fire at our marine base in Bacho at around 1.30am this morning and 17 of them were killed,”  Lieutenant-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council of Thailand, told Reuters.

The insurgency in the three southern provinces of Thailand has simmered for the past decade and has led to the deaths of at least 5,300 people, according to figures collated by Deep South Watch, a regional monitoring group.

A mishmash of various Muslim insurgent groups, operating in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, which were once part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before being annexed by Thailand in 1909, have sought out military and police targets.

But they have also targeted thousands of civilians and teachers, accused of cooperating with the government or the authorities. These southern parts of Thailand are around 80 per cent Muslim and while the insurgent have made few collective demands for autonomy, they have expressed their anger over the presence of the heavy militarisation has taken place.

The government has dispatched tens of thousands of police, soldiers and paramilitaries to quash the slowly burning insurgency and there have been repeated reports of the misuse of torture.

A 2011 report by Amnesty International said: “The Thai authorities have arrested more than 5,000 people, many of whom were arbitrarily detained and in many cases subjected to systematically to torture. The government has also resorted to enforced disappearances and extra-judicial executions.”

The attack launched in the early hours of Wednesday followed the killing of five soldiers, apparently by insurgents, on Sunday. That in turn came after a series of attacks on civilians, including one this month in which four Buddhist fruit traders, who had travelled to the south from outside the region, were found shot dead with their hands and legs bound.

“From the insurgents perspective, this is a demonstration of their ability to attack both hard and soft targets,” Sunai Phasuk, a Bangkok-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Independent.

The attack in the early hours of today, following which the authorities were able to recover 16 rifles and two pick-up trucks used by the insurgents, represents the deadliest incident since April 2004 when the insurgents launched coordinated attacks on police stations and checkpoints.

In all, around 100 militants were killed, including 32 who were taking shelter at the Krue Se mosque in Pattani, which the government forces stormed. The killings led to an intensification of the insurgency.

The violence has prompted the government in Bangkok to consider imposing a curfew in parts of the south, where the military already has wide-ranging powers of search and arrest under an emergency decree. A meeting of various agencies is due to take place on Friday.

Mr Phasuk said six districts in two provinces were already under curfew and that the military could use what had happened to argue for its extension.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little