More children and 'innocents' being killed in attacks down South

national February 23, 2014 00:00

By The Sunday Nation

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6-year-old injured in latest Yala attack; report shows 62 children have been killed in the region since 2004

More and more innocent civilians, especially children, are being affected by the ongoing unrest in the South. In the latest gun attack in Yala’s Kabang district yesterday, three villagers were shot down and a six-year-old boy injured by a stray bullet. 
After the 10.10am attack at a latex-purchasing outlet in tambon Kabang was reported, police found the bodies of Thipwadi Thongsongkaew, 21; Ekkapong Saenroj, 32; and Doungduan Rombua, 35; along with spent bullets. 
A young boy also sustained injuries to his head as a stray bullet scraped his scalp. 
Initial investigation showed that three men on motorbikes came to the shop pretending to be customers before opening fire at the people inside. Police believe a group of insurgents led by Hamdan Musordi, which is active in Kabang and Songkhla’s Saba Yoi district, might be responsible for this attack.
Five minutes later in Raman district, another gun attack was reported in which assistant village headman Asae Katae, 41,was shot down in a rubber plantation in tambon Keror. Police are trying to find the motive for this attack. 
The case in Kabang district serves as yet another reminder about how the young are being affected by the rise in violence. Issara News Agency reported that over December and January, there have been nine incidents in which five children were killed and three injured. 
The first half of this month saw three brothers aged 11, nine and six shot dead in Narathiwat’s Bacho district, while a drive-by shooting in Mae Lan in Pattani on February 13 killed four people including a nine-year-old boy and his mum. The boy’s 11-year-old sister was also injured. 
In Narathiwat, most of the slain brothers’ schoolmates have shown symptoms of post-traumatic stress, prompting a team of psychologists from the Mental Health Department to visit the school and provide initial treatment for the affected youngsters. 
In move to identify the impact this violence is having on young people, the Cross Cultural Foundation along with justice advocacy group Hak Asasi Pree Kemanasiaan Patani, the Hearty Support Group and other allies have produced a report entitled “Situation of the Children and Women in the Far South 2013”.
According to the report, 62 children have been killed and 374 injured from 2004 to October 31, 2013, from violent incidents in the South. 
It also claimed that many children faced additional risks as they lived near areas where state officers – the insurgents’ main targets – were based. 
Other than the direct impact of being injured, maimed or orphaned by the death of their parents, young people in the South can also be affected indirectly by stress, depression or can start believing that violence is acceptable. 
Hence, the report offered four measures:
l Strictly controlling the possession of weapons in order to prevent the use of guns in public areas;
l Encouraging people to participate in community surveillance so attacks can be intercepted quickly; 
l Getting state officials to conduct more precise and careful operations to prevent an impact on people; and 
l Stopping women and children from being encouraged to pick up weapons.
The report called on all sides to: 
l Launch attacks away from innocent and unarmed civilians so the battle follows international standards and respects human rights; 
l Protect the innocent or use peaceful means to resolve problems; 
l Ensure the fighting does not affect the women and children; 
l Not invite women and children to use weapons to resolve problems or for self-protection. 

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