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Group of Islamic nations applauds Thailand's policy in restive south

Group of Islamic nations applauds Thailand's policy in restive south

The head of an influential group of Islamic nations on Monday applauded Thailand's more conciliatory recent approach in fighting an Islamic insurgency that has killed more than 2,000 people since flaring in early 2004.
"We are encouraged by the new government's policy toward the Muslim population and we support the measures taken by the government," said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Ihsanoglu, making his first official visit to Thailand, met with Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram on Monday and was to meet with Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Tuesday.
Since taking office after a military coup last September, Surayud has apologized for the mistakes and heavy-handed policies of the former government, held dialogues with hundreds of Muslim youth, revived a once-effective organization for settling local conflicts, and announced that he would support the limited enforcement of Islamic law in Muslim-dominated provinces.
Earlier this month, Surayud said the military-installed government is considering granting amnesties to Muslim insurgents in the south, a step that would be a major policy shift.
But almost daily bombings and shootings in the south have continued unabated despite the government's outreach.
"That these incidents still occur simply means that we haven't been fully successful. But it is not for the lack of trying," Nitya said. "The Thai government will increase its efforts and intensify its efforts in order to bring about safety to the innocent people in the southern provinces."
In the latest violence, suspected Muslim insurgents killed two Buddhist villagers, beheading one of them, and left a message saying the attack was revenge for a deadly weekend bombing at a mosque, police said Monday.
In a separate incident Monday, a bomb exploded at a roadside restaurant in Narathiwat province, injuring one worker.
Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist, but Muslims form a majority in the country's three southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia, where they have long complained of discrimination.


Updated : 2021-07-26 05:32 GMT+08:00