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At Least 84 Dead in Clashes in Thailand's Muslim South

At least 84 Thai Muslims died — mainly from suffocation in the back of security force trucks — after police and troops broke up a violent demonstration in the kingdom’s troubled south, Thai officials said. Most of the victims died while being taken into custody after officials used water cannon and tear gas to break up the protest Monday outside a police station in Narathiwat province. Manit Suthaporn of the justice ministry told reporters.” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, speaking before the announcement of the extra 78 deaths, said the protesters were weak because of fasting during the holy month of Ramadan which started on October 15. Thaksin told reporters.The protests were sparked by the arrest of six Muslim men accused of handing guns to rebels in Muslim-majority southern Thailand where an insurgency has now killed 409 people this year. Thai police said some of the crowd tried to storm the police station. Rights activists have previously accused the authorities of heavy-handed tactics in the south, including the storming of a mosque that left 32 Muslim militants dead during a one-day uprising in April. The insurgency in the south of mainly Buddhist Thailand has continued sporadically for decades and sparked into life again in January with a raid on an army depot. A member of Thailand’s state-backed human rights commission also warned earlier of worsening violence and said the break up of the Police said the situation was under control on Tuesday morning after the biggest clash between authorities and disaffected Muslims since a day-long uprising in April left 113 people dead. During the Monday clashes more than 1,000 security forces were brought in to confront angry crowds. Thaksin made an emergency trip to the area but returned to Bangkok Monday night and was chairing a scheduled cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid said in Kuala Lumpur that the flare-up across the border in Thailand was a “matter of concern”. Authorities have bolstered security on the borders to prevent suspected militants crossing the border into Malaysia.Full Story

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