April 12, 2012
Over 300 Muslim residents of Yala Town joined in a prayer service on Monday (April 9th) in front of the khao mun gai (steamed chicken with rice) shop on Ruammitr Road.
Led by Imam Seng Dumidae, head of the Yala Provincial Muslim Council, attendees prayed for peace following the two March 31st bombings in the town, one of which took place at the khao mun gai shop.
The death toll for the Yala attack now stands at 12 dead, with 105 still under treatment for injuries.
Also attending were local officials, members of the public, local and visiting media from neighbouring Malaysia, the region's most important source of tourists. Local leaders hope Malaysian tourists will not change plans to visit the region for the annual Songkran Festival, which begins on Friday.
In Pattani, meanwhile, a key Muslim cleric condemned the violence and described it as a serious moral problem.
"We need to accept that these days our people here are straying much too far from their own religious principles and teachings about virtue and morality, not absorbing them with their hearts and minds," said Yakobh Laymanee, the imam of Pattani's Central Mosque. "In such states people are led astray by whatever moods or passions present themselves," he said.
The mind of such a person is similar to a barren field that has gone unwatered, Imam Yakobh said.
"If the land is too arid, not even grass can grow there. Life is the same way. Without moral principles and mental discipline, life falls into a downward spiral of sinful behaviour with no regard for life, not even caring about those one harms or even kills," he said.
A return to religious values is the key to resolving the unrest in the region, Imam Yakobh said.
"We need to develop religious ethics and discipline, because when people fear the consequences of sin they'll cease doing bad things. All of us already have religion in our hearts, we feel shame when we sin and fear divine judgment. I truly believe we can adopt a combined secular and spiritual approach to restore peace step-by-step in these three southern provinces," he said.
Local resident Sritekorreyao Yeeduerah, who volunteers to help victims of violence in Pattani's Muang district, told Khabar Southeast Asia that extremists seem to be increasingly willing to attack ordinary people.
"Before the terrorists only targeted government officers, but now they hit innocent civilians, both Buddhist and Muslims," she said.
"This is causing me anxiety as I fear one day I'll be the victim. Whenever I see an unfamiliar car parked outside my house I worry whether or not there is bomb planted inside it. My overall attitude has taken a turn for the negative because of all this," she said.
"I would like to take this opportunity to tell the terrorists to stop what they are doing and reflect on how they would feel if their parents and other family members were victimised in the same way. You would feel the same way that the families of your victims do now," she said.
"I would also like to ask all members of the public to be increasingly cautious. Even if you are in a well-lit area, never assume you are safe. Be vigilant at all times," Sritekorreyao added.