Agam's Gecko
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Pattani school
Thai soldiers inspect terrorist damage at a school in Pattani province, Thailand on March 17, 2007. (Photo: AFP/Meriking Tuan)

ast night, the southern Thailand terrorist insurgents attacked an Islamic residential school in Songkhla province, leaving three students dead and at least seven others wounded.

The school was attacked late in the evening when students were sleeping. Local police said the attackers hurled explosives at the school, and then opened fire into a dormitory -- where about 75 young students were sleeping -- with automatic weapons. Two students, one twelve and one fourteen year old were killed at the scene, and one 17 year old died later in hospital. It has not yet been determined whether the victims were killed by the explosives or the gunfire.

The Bamrungsart Pondok school is located in Saba Yoi district, which neighbours the Yaha district of Yala province, which was the scene of an ambush and slaughter of nine people on Wednesday. A mosque and a tea shop in Yaha district were bombed soon after the ambush. Today a group of terrorists stormed a charcoal factory near the boarding school in Saba Yoi, killing two workers and wounding several others, while another man was gunned down on his motorcycle.

This morning police and officials were barred from entering the school by villagers who blame authorities for the attack. More than 500 protesters paraded the dead children's bodies around, and set fire to buildings in a nearby government school. They do not believe Muslim insurgents attacked their school, and are convinced that Thai paratroopers carried out the attack. Commander of the Fourth Army Region, Lt. Gen. Viroch Buacharoon said that after the incident last night, there were announcements played over a loudspeaker claiming the attack had been carried out by authorities.

As ludicrous as this might sound, it demonstrates how much the radicals are able to control the narrative. Although Buddhists are frequently targeted in the apparent campaign to instill fear and promote the ethnic cleansing of the area, Muslims have also been victims of the many bombings, as well as in targeted assassinations. Indeed, Muslims probably account for most of the deaths over the past three years.

In the ambush on Wednesday, in neighbouring Yaha district, a transport van carrying passengers from Betong to Hat Yai encountered an obstruction set by the insurgents, who had placed a log and spikes across the road. As the driver made his u-turn, the terrorists opened fire on the van before approaching it and killing nearly all the passengers execution-style -- five women and three men. The driver was spared, although wounded.

According to local newspaper reports on Thursday, van driver Abdul Raman Kadeh was heard by the attackers when he fell to the ground imploring for Allah's protection. Realising he was a Muslim, they didn't finish him off. He was taken to hospital along with the only other survivor, a 40 year-old woman. She died later in hospital, bringing the death toll to nine. The religious beliefs of the passengers are unknown, and should be irrelevant.

In more and more of these senseless attacks in the deep south, terrorists seem to be mimicking tactics seen in the Iraqi and Afghanistan insurgencies -- remotely detonated roadside bombs, ambushes of public transportation and execution of passengers, slaughtering school children. Animals, in other words, whose only goal in life is to carry out the most outrageous violence against innocent people, and presumably to start a civil war. And it's as frustrating to see local people blaming the Thai authorities when terrorists kill them, as it is to see some Iraqi people blaming the MNF when terrorists blow up a marketplace.


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