Spate of attacks rock Thailand's Muslim south

By Arnaud Dubus, Monday, May 12, 2014

A Muslim woman was reported killed in one of around 10 blasts late Sunday night in Narathiwat and Yala provinces

A Muslim woman was reported killed in one of around 10 blasts late Sunday night in Narathiwat and Yala provinces

BANGKOK - Five months after negotiations between insurgents and the government were suspended, a spate of deadly coordinated attacks in Thailand's Muslim south has underlined the failure of peace efforts in the region.

A Muslim woman was reported killed in one of around 10 blasts late Sunday night in Narathiwat and Yala provinces - which also injured nine other people - while a car bomb rocked the Sungai Kolok district. 

Narathiwat Police General Pathanawut Angkanawin told the Anadolu Agency that two police officers were injured in one drive-by shooting.

Yala Police General Trongkiart Watakul said in other incidents a gunman had opened fire, and electricity poles had been destroyed by a combination of bombs and arson.

There has been a marked increase in the number of violent incidents in the region in the past month, Hat Yai - the region's largest city - shaken by four bombs which injured eight people May 6.

Thailand's three Muslim-dominated southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat have been wracked by a Muslim insurgency since Siam (the name of Thailand pre-1939) took control of what was then a Malay Sultanate following an Anglo-Siamese treaty in 1907.

The insurgency became a full-blown civil war in the 1960s when the Bangkok government tried to control education in the region's Islamic schools.

In January 2004, a rejuvenated movement launched a series of attacks that shook up the Thai State. Since then bomb attacks, drive-by shootings and ambushes have happened on an almost daily basis; almost 6,000 people – Buddhists and Muslims, military, teachers, civil servants and civilians – killed and 10,700 others wounded.

In early 2013, the government entered dialogue with representatives of the insurgency, with Malaysia acting as a facilitator, but since the December 9 dissolution of the National assembly by authorities under pressure from anti-government protesters talks have been suspended.

On April 29, the government's chief negotiator was removed from his position as National Security Council chief and replaced by Thawil Pliensri - a known opponent to the governing Puea Thai (For the Thais) Party. 

Thawil, however, said Sunday - while visiting the south - that he will try to reactivate peace talks.

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