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Thai PM Vows to Restore Historic Mosque - 2004-05-08


Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pledged to restore a historic mosque damaged last week in raids by security forces that killed 32 Islamic rebels.

Mr. Thaksin appealed for unity on Saturday, as he wrapped up a three-day visit to the troubled southern region. After removing his shoes, he went into the damaged mosque in the village of Pattani, sat on the marble floor, and discussed last week's events with residents and local leaders.

The prime minister did not apologize for the actions of the security forces, although the government has launched an independent investigation.

The rebels were killed when troops and police stormed the mosque during coordinated attacks in three southern provinces. More than one-hundred militants and five security officials were killed in the attacks.

During his trip, Mr. Thaksin also met with diplomats and ambassadors from 12 countries to assess the damage from last week's violence. After the meeting, he said the foreign officials had a better understanding of the situation.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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