When the Muslim Thai general, Sonthi Boonyaratglin
, seized control of the Thai government in a military coup in September, he announced that the new government would take a far softer line towards the jihadist terrorists in the southern part of the country. [Reliapundit adds: The junta claimed
they were adopting this softer-line in the hope that this would appease the jihadists and end the religious strife.]
In Narathiwat's Rangae district, many business operators have decided to yield to insurgent demands to close their businesses every Friday and Sunday. Small businesses in the district have closed their stores on Fridays due to similar threats in the past. But yesterday, business operators received a letter signed by ''Terrorist Group,'' telling them to also close their shops on Sundays.
The letter says all businesses in Rangae district's Tambon Tanyongmas municipality must acknowledge that Sunday is also a holiday as well as Friday. Any business operators failing to comply with the announcement would have to bear the consequences on their lives and property, the letter threatened.
A grocery shop owner in Tambon Tanyongmas said the letter had been placed at her door yesterday. After reading the letter, she and her fellow grocery shop operators agreed to comply with the instructions in the letter for fear of attacks. The letter was handed to state officials for further investigation.
In Yala province, an insurgent group clashed with a unit of military rangers yesterday near a railroad in Yala's Muang district, a military source said. Insurgents ambushed the rangers at their operation base near Tambon Taseh railway station, prompting an exchange of gunfire for about 10 minutes. There was no report of casualties at press time when reinforcements from nearby police and military units were sent to the scene of the fighting.
Earlier last night, three Buddhists were killed and three others wounded in three separate gun attacks in Yala's Muang and Yaha districts. One of the injured was a 78-year-old woman.
Police said the attacks were believed to be the work of insurgent groups. An intelligence official in the deep South predicted possible simultaneous, coordinated attacks against state officials and public facilities by separatist groups in villages where members of militant groups are living. The militants are believed to be planning bombing attacks on local electricity generating facilities in the villages before hitting other targets.
Closing down the schools seems to be a prime goal of the terrorists; in the last 3 years, 59 school teachers and officials have been killed. By depriving children of an education, they will plunge this region of a modern, vibrant, 21st-century country back into their hellish 12th-century dystopia.
And is it too far-fetched to believe that facilitating the secession of Pattani province is part of Sonthi Boonyaratglin's plans for Thailand? After all, he was the military commander responsible for the southern part of the country during 2005, when the insurgency dramatically escalated, and he once improbably claimed that communists, not jihadists, were responsible for the insurgency. The local governors thought that was nonsense. [Reliapundit adds: Which means the junta's efforts are either ill-fated appeasement or treachery. Neither are any good.]
We should all pray for the safety and well-being of the Thai people, and for their King, Rama IX, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is an accomplished agronomist, a philanthropic humanitarian, a firearms enthusiast, and the proud biographer of his rescue-dog "Tongdaeng."