Seven years afterward – an achievement or a failure?
Buoyed by the new statistics which shows that the number of violent incidents in the Deep South has dropped below 1,000 this year, the first time in seven years since renewed violence broke out in January 2004, the government and security authorities concerned believe that they are on the right direction in their tireless efforts to “douse the fire” in the strife-torn region.
They are also confident that they have the situation under control to the extent that they have decided to lift emergency decree imposed for more than five years in some selected districts which the situation has returned to normal.
But for the ordinary people in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat and some districts of Songkhla, they may think otherwise and may not be as optimistic as the officials. Just take a look at the following statistics:
- The total death toll of officials and civilians, both Muslims and non-Muslims from the bloody violence since January 4, 2004 until the end of November this year stood at 4,122. The number of injured were 7,225 who included males and females of all ages, different religious faiths and various occupations and professions.
- There were 1,987 bombing incidents, including the one on December 13. This translates to an average of almost one incident a day. A breakdown of the bomb explosions is as follows: 920 incidents in Narathiwat, 599 incidents in Yala, 412 in Pattani and 56 in Songkhla.
- There are now 5,111 orphans and 2,188 widows.
- Criminal cases for the past seven years until August this year stood at 72,731. Of these, 7,439 cases are security-related. Of all the criminal cases, 5,688 cases remain unresolved because the wrongdoers were unknown. Suspects could be identified in 1,751 cases. And out of these cases, suspects were caught in 1,227 cases. As for security-related cases, judgements have been delivered for 238 cases involving 440 suspects. The rate of acquittals was 43 percent. There was only one case which reached the Supreme Court and the case was acquitted.
As for the budget used to tame the violence in the Deep South, altogether 144 billion baht have been spent by various governments since 2004. A breakdown of the budgets on year-on-year basis is as follows: 2004, 13,450 million baht; 2005, 13,674 million baht; 2006, 14,207 million baht; 2007, 17,526 million baht; 2008, 22,988 million baht; 2009, 27,547 million baht; 2010, 16,507 million baht; and 2010, 19,102 million baht.
Given the massive budget already spent, the loss of more than 4,100 lives with more than 5,000 children made orphan and over 2,000 women left without husbands and with most of the perpetrators still escape scot free plus a host of social problems such as rampant illicit drug abuses and booming contraband trade, one may wonder whether the drop in violent incidents this year qualifies to be hailed as an achievement or a painful tragedy?
Despite a drop in violent incidents, militants appear determined to carry on their terror campaign against their marked targets who include military personnel, police and civil servants regardless of their religious faiths.
On Wednesday December 29, a suspected militant detonated a car bomb in broad daylight in front of the district’s highways office in Bacho district of Narathiwat which is located about 150 metres from the district police station. The explosion injured three highways officials and one villager.
A surveillance camera at the scene showed a middle-aged man in white shirt and black pants disembarked from a pick-up truck, crossed the street and disappeared. About three minutes later, the truck exploded.
Police said that the explosion came from a 15-kg fire extinguisher stuffed with explosives and placed on the back seat of the vehicle. It was detonated with a mobile phone.
Police suspected that the truck believed to be stolen as it was painted with several layers of paints.
Mr Jesada Jintarat, Bacho district officer, said that the bomb was aimed at officials working in the highways office.
Caption : Arm-training by the governor in deep South.