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Half-Dozen Suspects in Southern Thai Violence - 2004-02-11


Authorities in southern Thailand say they have apprehended a half-dozen suspects in connection with the recent upsurge of religious violence in the predominantly Muslim south.

Military officials say troops have in custody six men believed to have been involved in a raid on an army base last month. In that raid, four soldiers died and many weapons were stolen. Around the same time, some 20 government schools were set on fire.

Since the attack, nearly a dozen government officials, three Buddhist monks and several Muslim teachers have been killed as tensions escalate between Muslims and Buddhists. Three southern provinces are under martial law.

Muslims in the region have demanded a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They say they will no longer work with local officials, who they say treat them with disrespect.

Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh held a town meeting with local officials in one southern city (Pattani) Tuesday. Most of the town's Muslim leaders boycotted the meeting.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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