- insurgency - Muslims - Thailand - unrest
YALA, Thailand, March 21 (Reuters) - Two policemen and a
suspected rebel were killed on Friday during a house raid in a
village in Thailand's Muslim south, where nearly 3,000 people
have died in four years of separatist unrest, police said.
The two policemen, a Muslim and a Buddhist, were shot dead
during a raid on the home of a suspected guerrilla in Yala, one
of the four southernmost provinces roiled by the violence.
Fifty soldiers and police then stormed the one-storey house
and killed a 25-year-old Muslim man, police said.
The raid followed clashes on Wednesday between security
forces and insurgents suspected of killing a 70-year-old
Two Muslim men, one of whom was believed to be a leading
member of an insurgent group and with a 500,000 baht ($16,000)
bounty on his head, died in that operation, police said.
After several months of relative calm, the incidents mark
an escalation of violence in the majority Malay Muslim region,
which used to be an independent sultanate until annexed by
Buddhist Bangkok a century ago.
A university think-tank that has been cataloguing the
unrest attributed the decline to the deployment of more troops
by new army chief Anupong Paochinda, who took office in
Anupong said a group of Thai academics had met with two
groups of exiled rebels in Geneva but they were not
representing the government in any way.
"I can assure you the government has never in any
negotiations with those wrongdoers," he told reporters after a
meeting of top security officials in Bangkok.
After the same meeting, Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej
stressed Bangkok would never hold talks with insurgents.