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Pressure mounts for terrorism action

Car bombs in main towns signal possible escalation of long-running violence

MPs with constituencies in the south today called for a full parliamentary debate on the security situation in regions bordering Malaysia following the latest bomb blasts there that killed at least 14 people and injured hundreds more. The parliamentary opposition also called for a debate as confidence wanes in the government's ability to handle security matters in the restive five southernmost provinces, where car bombs hit a hotel in Hat Yai and a market in Songkhla on March 31. Regional tourism head Somchart Pimthanapoonporn told the Bangkok Post that not only tourism operators “but also other businesses are not confident in the security standard of the government.” There has been a steady stream of casualties in the last seven years in an insurgency many attribute to secessionary demands from Muslims in the area, which was annexed by Thailand 110 years ago. More than 5,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed there since early 2004. Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said that “nearly all companies and investors do not want to operate in the Deep South any more.” Both Malaysia and Singapore have issued travel advisories warning against unnecessary travel to the southern Thai border region.

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