Situation is tense in Patani as Muslims protest in front of army camp

May 8, 2007

Some 1,000 Patani Muslims have gathered in front of an army camp in Patani province to demand that the authorities freed immediately 24 suspects arrested in connection with the daily violence in the deep south.

The situation is tense as the army refused to negotiate with the protesters as they were confident of their evidence. The army claimed earlier that some of the detainees after intense torture confessed that they involved in shooting at a motorcade of HM the Queen’s close aide in February.

The camp gate was closed in the morning as the protesters started gathering in front of the camp at about 10am on Tuesday. About 200 soldiers were deployed at the camp and water trucks were seen at the camp.

An army source reiterated that the army would not negotiate with the protesters and prepared to take drastic action if the protest turned violent.

The protesters comprised of men, women and children, differing from previous protests that mostly comprised of women and children.

Leaders of the protesters spoke through megaphone, demanding that the army freed all suspects. They said they would not disperse until the suspects were released.

The suspects were arrested a few weeks ago and the army moved them to the camp in Nong Chik district for interrogation. The move was to prevent the protest in the area.