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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn