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Thailand's King Says Police, Soldiers Must Increas

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Thailand's King Says Police, Soldiers Must Increase Cooperation

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej said police and soldiers must increase cooperation to prevent killings and unrest in three Muslim-majority southern provinces.

``With serious and closer cooperation between police and soldiers, I believe the violence in the south will decline,'' King Bhumibol said yesterday while meeting a group of police and army generals. ``Without public security, it will destabilize the whole country.''

King Bhumibol's remarks came a day after Queen Sirikit commented on the unrest in the south. The royal family rarely refers to politics in Thailand, which is a constitutional monarchy. The King and Queen, who are held in high esteem by the people, usually speak to the public on their birthdays.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose party faces parliamentary elections in February, is trying to deal with a surge in violence in the three provinces after 78 Muslims died from suffocation while crammed into trucks headed for an army camp following clashes with troops on Oct. 25. More than 400 people have died in the violence in the south since January.

Queen Sirikit said unrest in the southern provinces is the ``worst'' she has seen in her lifetime. The Queen earlier this month returned from visiting some of the provinces where she inspected royal development projects.

``What the Queen witnessed in the three provinces during her stay there must be prevented by good cooperation of police and soldiers,'' the King said in a speech rebroadcast by state-run Radio Thailand today.

King Bhumibol, 77, who succeeded to the throne in 1946, is the world's longest reigning monarch.

Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani are the only Muslim-dominated provinces out of Thailand's 76 provinces. The three regions have borders with Malaysia.

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