Southern Muslims Confront Aftermath of Violence Between Police and Islamic Militants

April 30, 2004

Source: Reuters

On April 30, 2004 Reuters reported, "Saddened and angry, Muslims attended Friday prayers across restive southern Thailand as troops stepped up the hunt for what officials said could be thousands of Islamic separatists. Thailand is reeling from Wednesday's unprecedented violence in its three southern, Muslim-majority provinces, where troops and police shot dead 108 gun- and machete-wielding Islamic militants after coming under attack in a series of dawn raids. 'The people are upset and angry,' said Yosoff Samail, 60, head cleric at the central mosque in the provincial town of Pattani, where troops with rocket-propelled grenades and teargas stormed another mosque and killed more than 30 insurgents inside. 'They want to know why the army killed those in the mosque. Why did they use heavy weapons? Why didn't they ask the chief Islamic leader what to do?' he said...Across the border in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where sympathy is strong for Malay-speaking Thai Muslims, opposition politicians branded the mosque shootout the 'massacre of Pattani.' 'This is an oppression, a massacre against Muslims,' said Sallehuddin Ayob, youth chief of the Parti Islam se-Malaysia, PAS, adding that no one had proved the dead were terrorists. Relations between the neighbors have been strained since Thai officials said in March that militants behind renewed violence in the area had taken refuge in Malaysia."