Tomorrow marks the ninth anniversary of what was described as the symbolic beginning of a new phase in the deep South insurgency, when a band of extremist Islamic militants raided an army armoury in Cho Airong district of Narathiwat, killing four soldiers and making off with more than 400 war weapons, mostly M16 assault rifles.
Since that infamous incident, the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani plus four districts of Songkhla have been raked with senseless violence on an almost daily basis, be it shooting, arson attacks or bombings.
Statistics compiled by the Isra news agency from January 2004 until last November show that the violence, perpetrated by militants, security forces and outlaw elements have claimed 4,962 lives, comprising 2,092 Buddhists, 2,739 Muslims and 131 whose religious faiths could not be determined. Also, 9,044 people were wounded, many of them maimed. Unfortunately, there are no figures about the number of people, especially Buddhists, evacuated from the restive region to other provinces for their own safety.
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