x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Thai security forces raid an Islamic school

Security forces have raided an Islamic school in southern Thailand, detaining 60 students and religious teachers for questioning.

PATTANI, Thailand // Security forces have raided an Islamic school in insurgency-plagued southern Thailand, detaining 60 students and religious teachers for questioning, police said. The raid came two days after a group of suspected Muslim insurgents opened fire on a motorcade of a high-ranking civil servant in the area. No one was wounded or killed. More than 3,700 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since an insurgency flared in January 2004. The provinces, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, are the only Muslim-majority areas in the Buddhist-dominated country.

Muslims in the area have long complained of discrimination by the central government. A total of 200 policemen and soldiers detained 60 Islamic teachers and students at Saengtham Wittaya School in Narathiwat province's Bacho district today, said Police Col Chamlong Ngamnet. "We have received information that some might have information about the incident on Saturday and others might have ties to the insurgency," Col Chamlong said, but he declined to elaborate.

"We will release those who are not involved. We just wanted to question them about recent activities at the school and in the area." The military can search and detain suspects for interrogation for 30 days without charge under a state of emergency that has been in place in the provinces since July 2005. The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.

A massive security force of 60,000 has failed to stop the violence in the area. The militants target people working with the government, including teachers, soldiers, police and suspected informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing. * AP