Thai forces on alert for second anniversary of Narathiwat armoury raids

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Two years on from the raids that signalled the start of what is generally accepted to be a separatist campaign in the south of Thailand, military forces in the area remain on alert for a repeat of the daring raid that saw four soldiers killed and over 400 guns stolen.

The raid on Ratchanakharin army camp in Narathiwat Province announced the most recent expression of nationalistic beliefs in the predominantly Muslim provinces that once made up the Malay Sultinate of Pattani, insurgency action since that time has seen over 1,000 killed, mainly through attacks allegedly made by insurgents. One of the most significant aspects of the raid was that it provided arms for the insurgency movement. According to the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the movement is home-grown and does not include foreign fighters. This significant supply of arms and ammunition has allowed a considerable number of attacks such as drive-by shootings, and efforts to recover the stolen weapons have had minimal success with only ten or less of the guns reportedly recovered.

Despite the majority of casualties having been caused by the insurgents, inexperience in handling a modern guerilla campaign have seen actions of Thai security forces the cause of casualties, most notable being the Tak Bai incident where 78 men died in custody. This has not helped in convincing the local community that the government has their best interests in mind.