According to the report, received via the international news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), the soldier has now been charged with murder after shooting two other soldiers at an army barracks in the south of Thailand, home to a Malay minority and a religiously and ethnically inspired insurgency that has claimed 6,300 lives over the past decade. The majority of the victims have been civilians. Hundreds of Thai troops have been stationed in the southern areas which have seen the army and police battle against an agitation by rebels in the Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia. The rebels are demanding greater self-government for the Muslim areas in the south. The vast majority of Thais follow Buddhism.
The unnamed soldier, believed to be 57 years old and hailing from the southern province of Phatthalung, opened fire late on Friday at a barracks in the Yaring district of Pattani province, killing two other soldiers, local police chief Montri Kongwatmai told AFP.
“The soldier killed two other soldiers and then surrendered himself,” he said. “Our investigation shows he had a personal conflict with them.” The soldier has been charged with murder and will face trial in a military court, Kongwatmai added. There is no implication of any political or insurgency-linked motive for the killings.
There are estimated to be 60,000 troops and police in the region attempting to secure the area and protect locals. They are regularly the target of roadside bombs and gun attacks by rebels, and the pressure of working in such an environment has caused numerous episodes of soldier-on-soldier violence. Last November, an army conscript went on the rampage, killing four officers and then committing suicide. The Thai armed forces chief has said that more needs to be done to offer support and counselling to troops battling rebels in the south. The south was originally part of what is now Malaysia, but was annexed by Thailand over a century ago.
While Thai security forces are often the subject of attacks by rebels, they have also been accused of human rights violations that have been described as widespread. Recently they have been condemned for killing civilians in raids on suspected rebel hideouts.
The insurgency has intensified since 2001, as various Thai elected and military governments have either fought an all-out war with the Malay insurgents or attempted to win over their hearts and minds. There are numerous insurgent groups fighting for greater autonomy in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces. They include the National Revolution Front, Runda Kumpulan Kecil, the Pattani Islamic Mujahideen Movement and the United Mujahideen Front of Pattani.
HEM News Agency, The Half-Eaten Mind, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-news-agency
The Straits Times, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/STcom
“Thai soldier shoots dead two colleagues in deep south” – Agence France Presse (AFP) via The Sunday Times – Home – Asia – Story/The Strait Times/SPH Digital News/Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. (10 May 2015) http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/thai-soldier-shoots-dead-two-colleagues-deep-south-20150510
“Thai soldier shoots dead two colleagues in deep south” – Agence France Presse (AFP) via Zee News – Latest News – World News (10 May 2015) http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/thai-soldier-shoots-dead-two-colleagues-in-deep-south_1593014.html
“South Thailand insurgency” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Thailand_insurgency
“File:Thai coup soldier.jpg” – goshen42, ChrisO & Fanghong, Wikimedia Commons (19 September 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thai_coup_soldier.jpg