‘Insurgents death in sudden military base attack’

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Thai security personnel investigate the site of a bomb attack by suspected Muslim militants a roadside in southern Thailand's Yala provinceBangkok, Thailand (CNN) – Seventeen insurgents were killed when they attacked a military base in the Bacho district in southern Thailand early Wednesday, said a Thai military spokesman.

Col. Pramote Promin said 50 to 60 attackers tried to storm the base under cover of darkness but were repulsed by Thai military personnel.

The insurgents were armed with military-grade weapons, including laser-guided rifles and hand grenades, and the fighting was intense, he said.

Some Thai military personnel were injured, but none killed, the spokesman said, adding that the military had received a tip and was ready for the attack. “We were on full alert,” Promin said.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or why it occurred.

Southern Thailand is home to a Muslim separatist insurgency that has escalated in recent years.

Although Thailand’s population is overwhelmingly Buddhist, Muslims make up a large percentage of the population in the country’s three southernmost provinces, near the border with Malaysia. The provinces have been under emergency decree since 2004.

Lt. Gen. Dithaporn Sasasmit, spokesman for the Thai internal security operations command, recently told CNN that the latest insurgent violence is related to the arrest of one of their leaders in January.

“Every time when authorities can arrest or conduct raid operations to prevent possible attacks, they would try to show off and create some situations,” Sasasmit said.

Human Rights Watch last year said that in 2011, insurgent groups targeted teachers they saw as symbols of state efforts to undermine Malay Muslim identity. The group said that Thai security forces have faced few consequences for abuses against Muslims. – CNN