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Thailand: 3 security officials killed by bomb in the south

24th Sep 2016
Thailand: 3 security officials killed by bomb in the south

By Max Constant and CS Thana

 

BANGKOK (AA): A remote-controlled bomb killed three security officials Friday in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued majority Muslim south.

Police captain Pongsak Khaonawon, deputy-chief investigator at Krongpinang police station in Yala province, told Anadolu Agency, “the bomb was buried under a road” in the district.

“It exploded exactly when a police car carrying officers was passing on the road, killing three officers and badly injuring a fourth one,” he added.

Another police official who requested anonymity citing ongoing investigations told Anadolu Agency, “the lead car was completely destroyed and three officers died immediately.”

Insurgents then ambushed the remaining vehicle with gunfire, injuring two more officers.

Local police believe that insurgents — who have been waging a decades-old violent campaign against the central Thai state and its representatives in the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces — were responsible for the attack.

Earlier this week, Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report saying that dialogue between the military government and the insurgents “has foundered” because both sides “prefer hostilities to compromise”.

“The National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO], which seized power in the 2014 coup, professes to support dialogue to end the insurgency but avoids commitment,” the report said, referring to the ruling junta by its official name.

On the insurgent side, the main active group — the National Revolutionary Front (BRN) — has “rejected the process”, and the degree of control an main umbrella group involved in the talks — Mara Patani — has over rebels active on the ground is “unknown”, according the report.

After a May 2014 coup brought the current junta to power, the military regime restarted a peace dialogue initially launched in 2013 by the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra that was overthrown in the putsch.

Since 2015, a series of meetings have taken place in Kuala Lumpur between a Thai military delegation and Mara Patani — which claims to represent the Malay-Muslim insurgents — with the Malaysian government acting as a facilitator.

But according to the report, the military regime has primarily regarded the dialogue as a public relations exercise “to show locals and the international community that it does the right thing”.

The ICG also noted that the refusal of the BRN to participate in the talks will prevent the dialogue from delivering “a lasting solution”.

The level of violence in Thailand’s far south has markedly risen since a series of bombings hit tourist areas last month in the upper south, where most of the population is Buddhist.

Fatal incidents this month include the detonation of a bomb placed on railway tracks and a bomb hidden in a motorcycle that destroyed a hotel lobby in Pattani province, as well as an explosion in front of a school that killed a four-year-old school girl and her father in neighboring Narathiwat.

The southern insurgency — which also has a presence in several districts of Songkhla province — is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the southern region and the Thai central state where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.

Armed insurgents groups were formed in the 1960s after the then-military dictatorship tried to interfere in Islamic schools, but the insurgency faded in the 1990s.

In 2004, a rejuvenated armed movement — composed of numerous local cells of fighters loosely grouped around the BRN — emerged.

The confrontation is one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet, with more than 7,000 people killed and over 11,000 injured since 2004.

 

[Photo: Thai Muslims live in poverty seen outside Haroon Mosque in central Bangkok, capital of Thailand on September 12, 2016.
Photographer: Guillaume Payen/AA]

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