No End in Sight as South Thai Rebellion Enters Fifth Year

January 3, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Original Source: AFP

Brutal killings have reached unprecedented levels in Thailand's Muslim-majority south, experts say, as the region enters the fifth year of a separatist insurgency that is tearing communities apart.

A government policy of reconciliation in the region has backfired, analysts told AFP, with rebels beheading, mutilating and even crucifying victims to try to spark a backlash and create divisions between Buddhists and Muslims.

"They kill in such brutal ways: beheaded, hacked to death, set on fire ... the idea is to provoke a strong reaction of the Buddhist Thais against Muslims," said Sunai Phasuk, a Thailand consultant with Human Rights Watch.

"The Buddhist Thais feel that they have become subject of atrocities, and many of them even feel that ethnic cleansing is going on."