Eight years ago yesterday, Islamic insurgents launched a surprise raid on an armoury in Narathiwat and stole 413 firearms, most of them M16 assault rifles. That daring raid on Jan 4, 2004 marked the start of a renewed insurgency by a new breed of hardcore militants which, sadly, has dragged on till today with no sign of abating, whether in terms of intensity or ruthlessness.
Latest statistics complied by the Isra news agency show that the war has so far claimed a total of 5,243 lives and injured 8,941 people. The death toll includes 4,215 ordinary citizens, 351 soldiers, 280 policemen, 148 teachers and educational personnel, seven Buddhist monks and 242 suspected insurgents. The violent conflict has also produced 2,295 widows and 4,455 orphans.
Financially, the government has spent more than 161 billion baht in the restive deep South for military operations and on development projects over the past eight years. Of this staggering expenditure, about 70% was spent on military operations to tame the insurgency.
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