Thai Insurgency Takes Toll On Both Buddhists, Muslims

May 24, 2009

Author: Denis D. Gray

Source: USA Today

Wire Service: AP

The young Muslim man says he watched helplessly as soldiers broke his father's bones and punctured his lungs with vicious kicks. After seven hours of relentless torture the Muslim religious leader died cradled in his lap.

In a nearby village, a 7-year-old Buddhist girl still dials her father's mobile telephone number every evening. Then she readies his bed. But her father is never coming home. He and his brother were riddled with bullets and their bodies set afire as they motorcycled to a computer class.

A vicious Muslim insurgency in Thailand's deep south has spared few. On the roll call of 3,400 dead are monks and teachers, shopkeepers and rubber tappers, officials and innocents from every background.

Islamic radicals are fighting for a separate state in Buddhist-majority Thailand. And a rift is widening between Buddhists and Muslims — communities that had lived harmoniously for generations and now share equally in the suffering.