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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 January, 2004, 08:23 GMT
New attack in southern Thailand
Thai policemen check a car in Narathiwat province
Southern Thailand is under martial law following a wave of attacks
Gunmen have fired on a police station in southern Thailand in the latest in a series of attacks in the area.

One report says two police officers were slightly injured in the incident, which took place in Yala province.

Yala is one of three Muslim-dominated provinces in the south where martial law has been declared following a wave of violence since the weekend.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra admitted that the attacks were a "wake up call" for the security forces.

Mr Thaksin said in a lecture to students on Wednesday that the violence forced the government to "accept that we underestimated some things".

SOUTHERN THAILAND
Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-80s
Government downplays any separatist threat, calling them bandits

He said the attacks revealed the poor relations between officials and residents and the difficulty of relying on local officials to resolve the problems alone.

"It will be a big wake up call for the Thai security system and we must solve the problem systematically. It is a lesson for us," he said.

It is unclear who is behind the attacks.

The government has resisted the suggestion that Islamic separatist groups long active in the south are organising them.

Mr Thaksin has admitted he thinks one such group, the so-called Mujahideen, was involved, but has said their overwhelming motivation was most likely criminal rather than political.

In the latest violence, 10 gunmen opened fire on Haiyaveng police station in Yala province, at 0230 local time on Wednesday (1930 GMT Tuesday).

It follows arson attacks on as many as 19 schools and the raiding of a military compound by an armed gang at the weekend . On Monday, two policemen were killed as they tried to defuse a bomb.

Three ministers were set to hold a second day of emergency talks about the incidents on Wednesday with local officials in nearby Pattani province.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of Thailand and Malaysia met to discuss co-operating in the search for those responsible. The violence has taken place near the border with Malaysia.




SEE ALSO:
Thailand's separatist fears
06 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Blasts hit southern Thailand
05 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Armed raids in southern Thailand
04 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Thailand
17 Dec 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Thailand
01 Nov 03  |  Country profiles


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