BANGKOK – Seven suspected rebels have been arrested in southern Thailand, authorities said Saturday, as a human hunt swept remote villages for gunmen killed in an ambush of 15 people, considered the deadliest of this long-lasting insurgency.
Thailand's three most southerly provinces are wrestling with a 15-year-old conflict that has killed more than 7,000 people, most of them civilians, while Malay-Muslim activists have been fighting for more peace. Autonomy compared to the Thai state.
The fighting is characterized by "fussy" attacks that typically target state symbols and security forces, mainly Thai Buddhists.
The Tuesday evening ambush in Yala province was held at two checkpoints held by civil defense volunteers – villagers trained and armed by the Thai state – who made 15 dead, of Buddhist and Muslim confession.
A suspect was quickly arrested the next day and late Friday evening raids in Yala and Pattani provinces resulted in the arrest of six others, said South Army spokesman Pramote Prom. -in.
The authorities also found bloody gauze at a village doctor near the crime scene, which is currently the subject of a "criminal investigation" to match the bloodstains left by the shooting, a he told AFP.
"We think that 30 to 40 people have been involved," said Pramote, adding that it was difficult to know which separatist group had orchestrated this highly organized attack.
No group has come forward to claim responsibility for this attack, as is the case with most incidents in what is known as the "Great South".
But a mosaic of rebel groups have long fought against Thai security forces, accused of brutal tactics by Muslim communities who feel targeted at home.
The region is also subject to martial law. Many checkpoints in remote villages and security forces have the right to detain anyone without a warrant.
All suspects were transferred to the notorious Inkayuth military camp in Pattani province, said Pramote, the largest army detention center in the south of the country, where defense groups human rights have documented acts of torture.
A Muslim man who was arrested there in July remained in a coma after interrogation. Abdulloh Esormusor died in August and an army investigation found that his death could be due to a "suffocation".
Anger had snowballed and a coordinating group representing some of the dark rebel groups claiming to be suspected of "unfair play" in the case of Abdulloh and calling for an international investigation. -AFP
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