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Malaysia urges Thailand to stop blame game

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  • Malaysia urges Thailand to stop blame game

    KUALA LUMPUR : Thailand should stop using Malaysia as a scapegoat for the insurgency in its Muslim-dominated southern states, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said.

    "To overcome problems in southern Thailand, Malaysia should not be made the bogeyman," said Syed Hamid, calling on its neighbour to tackle the root causes of the violence.

    "Finding a scapegoat to justify what has happened will not help in any way to ease the tension in the restive south but will only worsen the situation," he said.

    "Pointing an accusing finger to this party and that party will not help in restoring peace and security," he was quoted as saying late Friday by the state Bernama news agency.

    Syed Hamid also denied suggestions from Thai Interior Minister Kongsak Vantana that bombs used by the insurgents were smuggled into Thailand from Malaysia.

    Thailand's southern states, which border Malaysia, have been rocked by dozens of small bomb blasts since Thursday that have claimed two lives and left more than 30 others wounded.

    Kongsak has suggested that the bombs came from another country, without specifically naming Malaysia.

    "I can assure that the bombs used in these attacks were made outside Thailand and smuggled into Thailand," he was quoted as saying by newspapers, adding that it was difficult to find bomb-making materials in Thailand.

    But the Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Chidchai Vanasathidya has rejected the idea of outside involvement.

    He said he believed the bombs, mostly small and crudely-made devices, had originated in the Thai south.

    Police have so far arrested an Indonesian and five Muslim Thais in connection with the blasts by suspected Islamic militants.

    Malaysia, a majority Muslim nation, has an uneasy relationship with Thailand over its troubled south, which shares close ethnic and cultural ties with Malaysia's northern states.

    In April, Malaysia was furious after the Thai media reported that it was hosting training camps for Thai separatists, labelling the claims preposterous.

    Relations were already strained last year when more than 130 Thai Muslims from the south fled over the border into northern Malaysia, saying they feared for their lives due to the fighting.

    A diplomatic spat ensued over the fate of the Thais, with Malaysia insisting the group should not be forced to return, particularly if their safety could not be assured, and Thailand refusing to talk to Kuala Lumpur.

    In December, Malaysia extradited to Thailand one of the group who was wanted in connection with the Muslim insurgency, putting relations on the mend. The remaining Thai Muslims are still in Malaysia.

    - AFP/ir

    Bomb attacks kill one, wound 22 in Thai south

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