Buddhist Thai Govt Says Fails to Win Muslims' Hearts

January 18, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Reuters


The Thai government said on Friday it was failing to win over the ethnic Malays of the predominantly Muslim far south, where more than 2,800 people have been killed in four years of separatist insurgency.

"We made great progress on military operations last year, but our efforts with the people remained static," government spokesman Chaiya Yimwilai told a news conference. "We need to beef up on the arrests, searches, intelligence as well as the civil affairs operations," Chaiya said.

Despite an army "hearts and minds" campaign, 2007 was the bloodiest in the far south since the insurgency began in 2004, a Thai research institute said.

Nearly 800 people were killed, taking the death toll in the four southernmost provinces to about 2,800 over the past three years, Prince of Songkhla University's "Deep South Watch" think-tank said.