Emergency rule lifted in Thailand’s south

Reuters/Surapan Boonthanom

Thailand’s cabinet agreed Tuesday to lift a five-year-old state of emergency in two southern districts, which will be a test case for the rest of the region. The emergency laws imposed on the majority Muslim region will be replaced by Internal Security Act in Mae Lan and Pattani districts.


"It shows the government is making progress in addressing the problem of unrest in the south," said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

More than 4,400 people have been killed in the region since early 2004, casualties of a violent campaign waged by suspected Islamic insurgents in the region, whose specific aims are unclear. About 30,000 soldiers are stationed in the region along with thousands of paramilitary troops.

Both Muslims and Buddhists have been killed, and violence continues even as the state of emergency was lifted.

Clashes with security forces left an alleged insurgent dead Tuesday and four police officers injured, according to officials.

On Monday a Buddhist was shot to death while he was riding a motorcycle to work in Pattani, and in neighbouring Narathiwat a Muslim ranger and his elderly father were shot dead at a rubber plantation.

The emergency laws imposed by decree since 2005 gave broad powers to security forces, something that rights campaigners have criticised, saying it gives them legal immunity.

Authorities say they are considering lifting the laws in two more districts, one in Yala province and another in Narathiwat.

A separate emergency decree was recently lifted in Bangkok and nearby areas. It was introduced in April in response to anti-government protests that left over 90 people dead.

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