The massacre at a mosque in Narathiwat was aimed at creating mistrust in the government and worsening the conflict between Buddhists and Muslims, senior officials said yesterday.
A group of masked assailants stormed into Al Pukon mosque in Joh I Rong sub-district on Monday night and sprayed devotees with gunfire, killing ten people on the spot and injuring a dozen others. A victim also died on the way to the hospital.
Army Commander-in-Chief General Anupong Paochinda, who rushed to region immediately, denied all claims of soldiers being involved in the massacre.
"I condemn any group that has perpetrated this violence," he said, adding that insurgents were trying to pass the blame onto the authorities for this "barbaric act".
"They simply want to raise this issue to an international level by making it look like state authorities are violently suppressing villagers. They want to create a climate of fear," Anupong said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva voiced his concerns, saying his government would work hard to improve the situation.
"The pattern of the attacks has changed and we need to adjust our tactics," Abhisit told reporters.
The PM's deputy secretary Panitan Wattanayagorn said militants staged this attack to get back at the authorities because they were losing territory in the region.
The zone that state officials cannot access has dropped sharply from 400 villages to 200 villages, he said.
"As a result, the militants are using violence and brutality to keep people fearful and gain media attention," explained Panitan, who is also a security expert.
Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) spokesman Colonel Prinya Chaidilok said the attack was aimed at creating conflicts between Buddhists and Muslims as well as discredit the government.
"They want to make the international community believe that there is a religious conflict between the government and the Muslims," he said. "The insurgents have tried to provoke religious conflict several times before, but it was impossible."
It really is disgusting how The Nation acts like a propaganda arm for the Democrat Party and the army.
How can you write a story of this magnitude without actually talking to people who were actually at the massacre?
Never any quotes from any Muslims or villagers in the South. Even for a human interest story, The Nation doesn't even have the decency to find out what happened to the families of those massacred.
Being a reporter and editor for The Nation must be the easiest job in the world. Just wait for the quotes from the government officials on TV and reprint them in the newspaper. Sources from other people are irrelevant.
To be fair, I just caught this column by Pravit at Prachatai. But Pravit is the journalistic exception to the rule.
The Bangkok Post has reporting here, here and here.
BP is more balanced, but still disturbing that neither of these news organizations think they have to do any independent investigating on their own and just wait for the government to tell them what to print.
In 5 years, thousands of Thais have been killed in this conflict and it doesn't really seem to matter much.
But make sure you dedicate front page after front page for years to Thaksin's every breath and movement.