Dozens of children have been killed, hundreds injured and thousands orphaned over the past ten years in Thailand's Deep South insurgency, according to a joint report by two Thai NGOs.
The latest victims, Nuraman, age two, and her brother Sulaiman, 12, were shot Sunday afternoon (April 20th) in Yala province as they rode with their aunt and uncle in the back of a pickup truck. Nuraman and the adults were killed; Sulaiman was injured.
With schools frequently targeted, children's lives have been deeply impacted. After Sunday's shooting, a 16-year-old schoolboy in Pattani's Yaring district told The Nation kids fear attacks both en route to and from school when they are near army vehicles– which draw insurgent attacks– and generally, whenever they are outside.
"We live in fear. Before the attacks wouldn't hurt children, but now the attacks could hurt anyone," said the boy, who was not named.
"I know the pain first hand"
From 2004 to October 2013, 62 children were killed, 374 injured and more than 5,400 orphaned, according to the report by the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the Network for the Promotion of Rights and Access to Justice.
Eight children have been killed and eight more wounded in Deep South attacks since January 1st, according to The Nation.
"It's inhumane to harm innocent children. I have lost family members myself because of the conflict in this region, so I know the pain first hand. Speaking as a mother, I would like to plead to one and all to keep women and children out of conflicts," Korleeyoh Halee, who said she represented Southern Border Provinces Women's Group, told Khabar.
Cloth merchant Anchana Heemmina, a resident of Songkhla's Sabaiyoi district, contributed research to the report she hopes, will be used to reduce violence against women and children.
"We have now even seen children specifically targeted, while women have more frequently suffered in attacks involving weapons," she told Khabar, referring to the February 6th slayings in Narathiwat of the three Maman brothers, aged 11 and younger.
Anchana and fellow researchers accessed statistics kept by Deep South Watch, and gathered additional information from other sources including news reports, complaints lodged with police or military officials, and through direct interviews with insurgents.
"Compared with four or five years ago, we are seeing more shootings, bombings and more people putting up anti-government banners and flags," she said of her home district.
Muslim clerics are calling for an end to the bloodshed.
"Islam, which has peaceful co-existence as a core tenet, strictly forbids the use of violence against women and children, just as it rejects violence in all its forms," Narathiwat Islamic Council Chairman Safah-ee Johlaoh told Khabar.
"I plead with people on all sides to stop using violence and to go back to joining our hands together to co-operate in solving disputes in order to restore peace in these southern border provinces, as we did in the past."