Thai marines killed at least 17 insurgents as they repelled an attack on a military base in the country’s south, the latest clash in an uprising that has stifled investment and left thousands of people dead.
More than 50 guerrillas dressed in military style uniforms raided the marine station in Narathiwat province early this morning, army spokesman Ditthaporn Sasasmit said by phone from Bangkok. No member of the security forces was injured, he said.
“I would like to praise the officials for their good intelligence that helped fend off this attack,” Defense Minister Sukumpol Suwannatat told a press briefing in Bangkok today. “We are still on high alert.” The government and army will meet on Feb. 15 to discuss whether to impose curfews in the nation’s three southernmost provinces, he said.
More than 5,000 people have been killed and thousands injured since a separatist insurgency against Bangkok rule flared up in 2004 in Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces, which border Malaysia. Separatists have fought for an independent state since mainly Buddhist Thailand formally annexed the autonomous Malay-Muslim sultanate in 1902.
The Muslim rebellion has curbed economic investment in the south, where 14 provinces account for about 80 percent of Thailand’s rubber production. About 95 percent of Thailand’s population of 66 million people is Buddhist.
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