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Thai junta's rush to end southern insurgency leaves villages smoldering

Military endorses counter-insurgency plan to resolve long-running conflict this year

Thai soldiers attend training at military barracks in Prachinburi Province, near Bangkok.   © Reuters

BANNANG SATA, Thailand -- Under the cover of darkness, Thai soldiers and paramilitary troops are raiding remote stretches of Thailand's southernmost provinces to arrest suspected Malay-Muslim insurgents.

In January, hundreds of armed troops combed through Bannang Sata, a hilly area of forest and rubber plantations near the Malaysian border, where militants have staged attacks in an insurgency entering its 15th year. Soldiers have arrested more than 40 men during two forays here.

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