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Human Rights Watch: Bombing in Southern Thailand a War Crime

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Human Rights Watch: Bombing in Southern Thailand a War Crime

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that a blast that injured dozens of people and killed a police officer at a police housing compound in southern Thailand should be investigated as a “war crime.”

According to authorities, the massive explosion from a car bomb on Tuesday afternoon targeted a housing compound where police officers and their families lived in Narathiwat.

Among the injured were some children, including a one-year-old. The attack by suspected separatist rebels claimed the life of a police captain.

“The car bombing of a police apartment building crowded with police officers and their families was aimed at causing mass loss of civilian life,” said Human Rights Watch Asia director Elaine Pearson. “Those responsible for the apparent war crimes should be investigated.”

According to the New York-based rights group, international law protect civilians and civilian structures from attack and apply to Thailand’s southern border region, where an insurgency has raged for years.

“The Royal Thai police in southern Thailand do not engage in counterinsurgency operations and are classified as civilians rather than combatants under international law.”

Bombing in Southern Thailand

Deliberate attacks on civilians is prohibited, and if carried out with criminal intent, they are war crimes,” Human Rights Watch said. The rights group urged that those who carry out such attacks to be prosecuted.

On Wednesday, investigators revised the number of people injured from 31 to 45, including three children.

According to a Deep South civil society network member, children and at least 13 women were injured.

“This is an illegal act that violates international humanitarian law,” Rukchart Suwan told BenarNews on Wednesday. “[We] strongly condemn the attack.”

In other news, the leader of the most powerful armed separatist group in the border region, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, declined to comment on the attack on Wednesday.

Bombing in Southern Thailand

Meanwhile the leader of the insurgency group, the Patani United Liberation Organization, said they were not involved.

“PULO has no involvement in the attack,” Kasturi Mahkota told BenarNews via text message.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha demanded that the perpetrators be apprehended as soon as possible.

“The prime minister expressed his concern and condolences to the families of the deceased… “and directed officials to expedite the investigation and bring the bombers to justice as soon as possible,” said a spokesman.

Furthermore, a Thai government panel involved in Deep South peace talks condemned the attack.

“[We] condemn the mastermind of the violence – be it any group or individual – because it targeted civilian, a violation of common dignity, human rights, and humanitarian principles,” the panel said in a statement released Wednesday.

“The peace dialogue emphasizes the intention to promote and support civilized, peaceful solutions under international norms and principles.”

Bombing in Southern Thailand

Following years of talks between the government of Thailand, the MARA Patani, that brought together insurgent groups in southern Thailand, including BRN, government officials, and BRN, began Malaysia-brokered peace talks in early 2020.

According to negotiators from both sides, the sixth face-to-face meeting scheduled for this month was postponed due to the Malaysian general election last weekend.

Authorities in southern Thailand spent Wednesday cleaning up the bomb site, which was littered with charred wreckage from cars and motorcycles and debris from an apartment building.

According to an army commander who visited the blast site on Wednesday, investigators have made some progress in identifying and apprehending the attackers.

“The vehicle used in the car bombing was not stolen, and [we] need to look into the owner’s connection to the attacker,” Maj. Gen. Pramote Prom-in told reporters. “In any case, the perpetrators were insurgents.”

According to Benar News, police detained and questioned a Pattani man on Tuesday.

Pattani police also questioned an employee of a used-car dealership who handled the pickup truck’s sale.

Investigators also used CCTV to track the path of at least two suspects who fled the scene on a motorcycle.

According to Deep South Watch, a local think tank, approximately 7,344 people have been killed and 13,641 injured due to insurgency violence across southern Thailand’s mainly Muslim and Malay-speaking region since January 2004.

The region along Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia includes the provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala, as well as the four districts of Songkhla.

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