Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thailand bombings

By Michael J.W. Stickings

At least 28 bombs went off in Muslim-predominant southern Thailand today, near the Malaysian border. The AP reports:

The bombings targeted hotels, karaoke bars, power grids and commercial sites in the country's southernmost provinces, the only parts of predominantly Buddhist Thailand with Muslim majorities. Two public schools were torched.

Three people were killed, more than 50 wounded.

Although Thai authorities are likely right to blame separatist insurgents for the blasts, and although there may be efforts to link these attacks with the larger American-led war on terror, and although I do not necessarily sympathize with the suspected goal of the insurgency (the establishment of an independent fundamentalist state), some context is required. As the BBC notes, "Violence has surged in Thailand's south since the military seized power in a bloodless coup in September". These provinces "were once independent but the region was annexed by Thailand 100 years ago". And as the AP notes (link above), this insurgency, which began back in 2004, has been "fueled by accusations of decades of misrule by the central government".

None of which is to excuse the attacks or the insurgency itself. However, it is important to keep in mind, post-9/11, that not all insurgencies are alike and that not all Muslim terrorism is the same.

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