Brutal Insurgency Haunts Thai Muslim South

July 3, 2009

Author: Martin Petty

Source: Reuters

When he heard the loud cracks of gunfire, Prapan Pormapat knew the insurgents had just claimed another victim.

An engine roared as two gunmen sped away on a motorcycle, leaving behind the body of a saffron-robed Buddhist monk in a pool of blood.

"Everyone here carries a gun now," said Prapan, a Buddhist tailor, recounting the chilling tale of when a shadowy five-year rebellion first struck in this sleepy neighbourhood of Yala in southern Thailand.

"I rarely go out. I'm too scared to travel anywhere. We don't know who is behind this violence, or what they want," he said.

Thailand's Muslim deep south has become the battleground of one of the world's most mysterious conflicts, a brutal insurgency that has claimed nearly 3,500 lives since 2004.