Muslim group: Thai unrest not religious

The deadly violence in Thailand's Muslim majority south is not a religious conflict, a visiting delegation from the world's largest Islamic group says.

    More than 690 people have been killed since January 2004

    Six members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, fresh from a tour of Thailand's violence-plagued southern provinces, reiterated on Tuesday the OIC's stance against separatist movements and condemned the attacks, particularly against innocent civilians, that have occurred over the past 17 months.

    "After discussions with the Thai side, the OIC delegation reaffirmed that the situation in the southern provinces of Thailand was not a religious conflict," the group said in a joint statement with the Thai government after meeting with Foreign Ministry officials.

    "The OIC reaffirmed its longstanding policy of not supporting separatism and sectarianism; respecting Thailand's sovereignty; and condemning the acts of violence from all quarters and terror against innocent civilians."

    More than 690 people have been killed since January 2004 in unrest that authorities blame on a mix of Islamic separatist insurgents, organised crime and contraband smugglers.



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