April 28-30, 2004
From CNN 'Alerts':
60 killed in attack on Thai police
BANGKOK, Thailand -- As many as 60 suspected Muslim separatists have been killed by Thai police following a series of raids on security outposts in the nation's south.
Two police were also killed in the co-ordinated dawn attacks in which groups of youths dressed in black set upon the stations with guns, swords and machetes.
More than 130 people have died since unrest began in early January in Thailand's restive Muslim-dominated southern provinces, but Wednesday's violence is the worst single incident to date.
Bandits attacked five police booths in Yala province, while in nearby Pattani province,
Thai police examine the site of an explosion in Pattani province earlier this year.
The largely Muslim province of Yala is 1,300 kilometers (780 miles) south of the capital, Bangkok.
"They attacked five of our police booths in Yala province this morning and we killed 22 of them," Colonel Prinya Kwanyuen, head of Yala province police, told Reuters by telephone.
Local television showed pictures of police and troops taking up positions in rural areas, as well as scenes of wounded border troops being unloaded from trucks onto stretchers.
At least one dead soldier was shown lying in the wreckage of a destroyed building. It is not known yet whether the attackers are Muslim separatists.
Bangkok has so far blamed the trouble on local gangsters exploiting disaffected local Malay-speaking Muslim youths who feel few emotional ties to the predominantly Buddhist country.
Last week 50 government buildings were torched in a single night and fears are growing that Thai citizens may soon become increasingly drawn into the violence.
The government is also facing criticism for its handling of the violence amid fears that outside terrorist forces could be stirring the trouble.
A rainy morning in Bangkok ... but, a nice breakfast.
Sad PS ... the news from the south reeks bleak:
Malaysia beefs border security
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia has beefed up security along its northern border Wednesday after violence erupted in neighboring Thailand,
Thai soldiers training in the south of the country.
Deputy Defense Minister Zainal Abidin Zin told The Associated Press security at entry points had been tightened, but that the border remained open.
"We have received reports that a major operation is underway on the Thai side of the border," Zainal said.
"But we do not know the number of casualties.
"On our part we have beefed up security at the border, increased the number of men to ensure there is no spill over of violence," he said.
"We are on high alert to ensure our side of the border remains fully secured."
The Thai government has blamed Islamic separatists seeking to carve a homeland in the Muslim-majority south of the predominantly Buddhist country for the recent violence.
Majority-Muslim Malaysia and Thailand have pledged cooperation to bring economic development to southern Thailand in a bid to quell trouble there.
Malaysia has strongly denied Thailand's accusation that some Malaysian villages have harbored militants who launch attacks in Thailand, then flee across the border.
PPS: THOCBDC has just received Ellie's Bangkok Journal. Its entries are scattered through April 7-13.
PPPS: Late Breaking News On The 28th:
Dozens dead in Thai gunbattles
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has vowed to root out "a ring of troublemakers" who launched a series of attacks on security outposts in the nation's south that left over 100 people dead.
Gangs of machete-wielding youths, clad in black and wearing headbands stormed 15 police and security bases or checkpoints at dawn in three southern provinces --
Initial indications are that the attackers were trying to seize weapons and ammunition.
Police and security opened fire on the attackers. The government officials said a total of 107 insurgents were killed in the raids, while three police and two soldiers also lost their lives.
Later Wednesday, security forces using tear gas and rocket propelled grenades stormed a mosque in Kruesei they had surrounded where a gang had holed up, killing around 30 of the attackers, police sources told CNN. It was not clear if those were included in the government's toll.
Seventeen youths were arrested and 15 others were wounded, officials said. Government officials told CNN that most of the dead in the morning raids were teenagers. It is believed the raids were an apparent bid to seize weapons and ammunition.
More than 150 people have died since unrest began in early January in Thailand's restive Muslim-dominated southern provinces, but Wednesday's violence is the worst single incident to date. The region is roughly 80 percent Muslim in the mostly Buddhist nation.
While some officials blamed the violence on Islamic insurgents hoping to establish a Muslim homeland, chief Thai government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair said the attacks were the work of gangs, including drug smugglers, trying to cover up their illegal activities.
"It looks like political maneuvering, [rather] than religious or ideological," Jakrapob said. "Because the Muslims [in southern Thailand] are and have been very peaceful and moderate. They have no tendency of linking ... themselves and the so-called Muslim extremist groups outside Thailand."
Police have launched an investigation into who was behind Wednesday's attacks. "Local people trained to do these attacks and fighting, but we are seeking to find out who are the masterminds behind all this," Jakrapob said.
Thaksin has called an emergency meeting to discuss the violence in the nation's death. Bangkok has so far blamed the trouble on local gangsters exploiting disaffected local Malay-speaking Muslim youths who feel few emotional ties to the predominantly Buddhist country.
But Thaksin vowed to smash the network of attackers, which he said were motivated by crime. "We will uproot them, depriving them of a chance to allude to issues of separatism and religion. In the end, they were all bandits," he told reporters.
Bangkok has been facing mounting criticism over its handling of the violence amid fears that outside terrorist forces could be stirring the trouble. Last week, 50 government buildings were torched in a single night and fears are growing that Thai citizens may soon become increasingly drawn into the violence.
Here's the answer that everyone in the whole wide world has been waiting for: why THOCBDC moved from 5A, albeit for a short time ... (yes, we are still optimistic about the 'short' bit of it) ... to a place on the far (sunset) side of the river.
Only readers Nick and Bull correctly guessed that we are now comfortably perched high-up in The Peninsula ... awaiting the return of our tub and toilet, after refurbishings have taken place.
Very bad news from southern Thailand: The Bangkok Post has its first two pages devoted to the story.
The Nation also provides full coverage, and wonders in a front-page editorial: "Will our country be the same again?"
Even the foreign press has headlined 'our' problem:
Meanwhile some countries are advising their nationals not to visit the south:
LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised its nationals not to visit the southern provinces of Thailand, where clashes between government forces and Muslim insurgents have left more than 100 people dead, unless their trips were essential.
"On April 28 there were attacks on security forces in 10 locations in the far southern provinces of Pattani, Yalan, Narathiwat and Songkhla," the Foreign Office said on its Internet site.
"More than 100 militants and five members of the security forces are reported to have been killed. We recommend against all non-essential travel to these four provinces."
Earlier the Danish government issued similar advice.
On April 9 the Foreign Office called on visitors to Thailand to be vigilant because of the threat of terrorist attacks, warning that Britons and other Westerners could be the target of such attacks.
Thai army commander General Chaisit Shinawatra said 107 attackers were killed in total, six were injured and 17 were arrested while two soldiers and three police were killed and another 15 security forces injured.
The attacks were the latest in a series of bombings, raids and murders in Thailand's southern provinces, which in the past four months have claimed the lives of some 65 security forces, government officials and Buddhist monks.
The southern provinces are among the poorest parts of the country and the violence there has been variously attributed by the government to organised crime, separatist movements or radical Islamists with links to international networks such as Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
-- AFP 2004-04-29
"My favorite thing about the Internet is that you can get into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them." - Penn Jillette
"The Internet is so big, so powerful and so pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life." - Andrew Brown
"I guess this must be my 15 megabytes of fame." - Anonymous web developer, on making USA Today's Hot List of sites
"The Internet is God ... or, is it the other way around?" - THOCBDC reader
PS: Watcharee just took The Peninsula's shuttle boat to catch the SkyTrain: her English 'conversational lessons' at A.U.A. are only four train stops from where the boat docks (at the Taksin station). By boat/train the journey is about 20 minutes; by car, close to 45 minutes.
PPS: Meanwhile our bathroom is being stripped to the raw.
Inside our Pen:
PS: Low key bulletins: ... an Indian restaurant ("Little India") has just opened next door to River Garden ... and our master bathroom at River Garden will have a window overlooking our satellite dish.
This is the best time of the day in Bangkok ... the humidity is only 61% and the temperature is 30C (about 90F) [*]
[*] For most temperature conversions that involve human comfort ... (contrasting, for example ... at the other extremes ... how much flame you need to boil steel or how much molecular activity you need to squeeze out of the room to freeze nitrogen) ... well, that complicated formula involving 5/9ths or 9/5ths divided by 32 or multiplied by it can be safely ignored. Just take your local temperature and do this to it:
10C and 50F are perfect conversions using the above formula. As you go up or down an error factor does creep in ... but for most decisions (e.g., whether to wear a coat or not) it is not anything to worry about. Only steel makers and labs that freeze sperm need to fret about the 5/9 or 9/5 thing.