At least 93 die in Southern Thailand clashes
The death toll from violence in Thailand's Muslim south Wednesday has risen to 95, including 93 attackers who mounted a series of dawn raids on police and army checkpoints, officials said.
Unidentified attackers on Wednesday morning launched attacks on at least 10 spots of police station or military checkpoints in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Songkhla, all lying some 1,000 kilometers south of Bangkok and close to Malaysia to the south.
The attackers, transported by motorcycles or pickup trucks, were mostly young men armed with guns or even knives.
It is believed to be the bloodiest violence in the region troubled by arson, bombs and shooting in the past four months that have claimed more than 100 lives.
Since early morning of Wednesday, most local TV stations have kept running pictures of attackers' corpses lying on roadside with blood draining into small pools.
In the TV pictures, the attackers were poorly equipped. Most of them were in T-shirts, jeans and sneakers and some of them wore a scarf with checked pattern on head. There were also weapons such as rifles scattered around the corpses and one dead attacker was showed with a knife in his hand.
Meanwhile, heavily-armed police and soldiers were showed shuttling by armored cars or pickup cars.
When asked whether the attackers were Muslim or Buddhist, a policeman was quoted by as saying that the attackers were all Thais no matter what their religious belief was.
The authorities are now collecting fingerprints of the dead so as to make clear their identities.
The attackers were most young men trying to rob weapons from the police and soldiers, said Deputy Chief of Internal Security Command Operation Pallop Pinmanee.
He noted that the attackers launched the attacks trying to revenge for the authorities in addressing the southern problem.
Last Thursday, 11 young men were arrested in the south for their suspected involvement in the coordinated burning of 20 schools on the same day.
Thailand's deep south has fallen into spiraling violence since Jan. 4 when armed men simultaneously torched down 20 schools, looted more than 300 weapons and killed four soldiers.
Since then, the region was caught in constant bombs or shootings. The Thai government has carried out martial law there and is trying to win more local cooperation to solve the problem by pledging economic and culture development projects.
An urgent Cabinet meeting is being called this morning by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to address the violence in the south.
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