(AFP) – Mar 17, 2008
BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand's interior minister said Tuesday he had "no idea" how to curb unrest in the nation's Muslim-majority south, as the government announced an emergency meeting following a deadly hotel attack.
"I must say I have no idea how to solve this problem," Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung told reporters, saying the insurgency stemmed from Muslim feelings of discrimination by mainly Buddhist Thailand.
"The southern unrest is a very serious problem. It's about their religion and their beliefs, and their grievances about discrimination," he said.
Chalerm said Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will hold an emergency meeting with security officials on Friday following the weekend hotel attack.
Two people were killed and 10 others injured Saturday when a car bomb exploded in the parking lot of a smart hotel that had been considered a safe zone for business and political leaders visiting the province of Pattani.
The conflict is entering its fifth year, but Thailand has made little visible progress even in identifying the people or groups behind the attacks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the violence, which has killed nearly 3,000 people since early 2004, and the government has yet to publicly identify any of the militancy's leadership.
While the previous military government launched a raft of peace-building measures, almost daily shootings and bomb attacks continued to rock the region.
In the latest attacks Tuesday, a Muslim militant was killed after a gun battle with 70 security forces in Narathiwat province, police said, while two Muslims were hurt after rebels hurled a grenade into a mosque in Yala.
The restive region was once an autonomous Malay sultanate, but was annexed by Buddhist Thailand a century ago.
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