January 14, 2008
Thai soldiers in the south of the country were hit in a deadly ambush that killed eight of their number. Thailand's prime minister Surayud Chulanont downplayed the importance of the attack, saying it was nothing out of the ordinary. (Civil War? What civil war?)
More than 2,800 people have been killed in Thailand's Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, and some parts of neighboring Songkhla, since a long-simmering Islamic separatist insurgency flared in January 2004.
The government has made little progress in curbing the violence, despite the presence of nearly 40,000 police and soldiers. Drive-by shootings and bombings occur almost daily, as rebels continue efforts to scare Buddhist residents away from the area.
More than 90 percent of Thailand's 65 million people are Buddhist, and many of the country's Muslims have long complained they are treated as second-class citizens.
Ani Rinchen Khandro writes about Buddhism in the New Statesman.