Deadly Thai blasts kill 11, injure more than 100

Last Updated: Sunday, April 1, 2012 - 00:36

Hat Yai (Thailand): Suspected Muslim
insurgents staged the most deadly attack in years in
Thailand`s restive south, killing 11 people and wounding 110
with car bombs that targeted Saturday shoppers just before
lunchtime.

A first batch of explosives planted inside a parked pickup
truck ripped through an area of restaurants and shops in a
busy area of Yala city, a main commercial hub of Thailand`s
restive southern provinces, said district police chief Col.
Kritsada Kaewchandee.

About 20 minutes later, just as onlookers gathered at the
blast site, a second car bomb exploded, causing the majority
of casualties.

"This is the worst attack in the past few years," said
Col. Pramote Promin, deputy spokesman of a regional security
agency. "The suspected insurgents were targeting people`s
lives. They (chose) a bustling commercial area, so they wanted
to harm people."

More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand`s
three southernmost provinces, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala,
since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004.

Most attacks are small-scale bombings or drive-by
shootings that target soldiers, police and symbols of
authority, but suspected insurgents have also staged large
attacks in commercial areas.

In October, suspected militants staged coordinated attacks
at more than 30 spots across Yala city, killing three people
and injuring more than 50. A month earlier, a trio of bombs
hidden in vehicles hit a busy section of Sungai Kolok in
Narathiwat province, killing four people and leaving more than
60 wounded.

Thai authorities have imposed a state of emergency since
2005 that gives security forces special powers to arrest and
detain suspects in the three provinces. But the decree and a
massive security presence have failed to curb the violence and
little is known about the militants or their goals.

The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are
thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The
area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by
Thailand in the early 20th century.

Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani are the only Muslim-dominated
provinces in the predominantly Buddhist country. Muslims in
the area have long complained of discrimination by the central
government.

Today`s blasts occurred on a road that was previously
heavily guarded by checkpoints and closed to traffic to ensure
safety. But the security was lifted in 2011 after local
vendors said the measures damaged their businesses.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 14:06

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