Rebels kill 15 defense personnel in southern Thailand

Deadliest attack on government forces since the separatist rebellion began 15 years ago.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Thailand
Thailand
Flash 90

Gunmen in insurgency-wracked southern Thailand killed 15 village defense volunteers and wounded five security personnel in what is believed to be the deadliest attack on government forces since the separatist rebellion began 15 years ago. Four of the slain officers were women and one was a doctor.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Wednesday the attack may show the insurgents are switching their focus from attacking soldiers and police to the volunteers, who are lightly armed soft targets. He said plans would have to be drawn up to better protect them.

Thailand’s volunteer forces in the south are raised from villages and receive weapons training from the army but no salary. They are usually issued shotguns but often carry personal handguns, and only guard their own villages rather than seek to confront the insurgents.

More than 7,000 people have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 2004 in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominant country. Muslim residents have long charged that they are treated like second-class citizens, and separatist movements have been periodically active for decades. Heavy-handed crackdowns have fueled the discontent.

Police, teachers and other government representatives have often been targeted, along with Muslim residents seen as siding with the government. Buddhist monks have also been attacked.



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