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Thailand: Two killed, three injured in bombing in Thai south

10th Mar 2016
Thailand: Two killed, three injured in bombing in Thai south

By Max Constant

 

BANGKOK (AA) – Two soldiers were killed and three others injured Wednesday when a remote controlled bomb exploded near a military unit in the far south of Thailand.

Destabilized for decades by an insurgency waged by Muslim rebels against the central Thai state, the army only recently had claimed that there has been a lull in such incidents.

“After the explosion, a power pole fell on a unit in charge of protecting teachers on their way home,” Police Col. Wisutorn Burimat, chief of Chanae police station in Narathiwat province, told Anadolu Agency.

Narathiwat is one of four southern provinces affected by the insurgency.

“Two soldiers died on the spot and three others were sent to Chanae hospital,” he added, saying that police considered the attack the work of insurgents.

The attack occurred as the leader of a military government team negotiating with an umbrella organization of insurgent groups announced he will release in coming days a report on the result of negotiations so far.

The Bangkok Post reported Gen. Aksara Kerdpol as saying Wednesday that the report will be published in both Thai and English, with as many copies as possible distributed “as the team’s accomplishments have not been yet widely publicized”.

“While all sides claim they are acting on behalf of the people, we would like to tell them that the people don’t want to see violence, but peace. We reject any form of violence,” he said.

“It is now, during the period of building mutual trust, that there should be no violent incidents in order to achieve that goal.”

Negotiations between Mara Patani, an umbrella group representing various factions of the insurgency, and the military government, who seized power in a coup in May 2014, have been on-going since 2015 with Malaysia acting as a facilitator.

Last year, Mara Patani set out three pre-conditions for formal peace talks with the Thai military government.

First, the organization demanded that the southern issue be made a priority on the government national agenda through a parliamentary vote. Secondly, it asked the government to recognize Mara Patani as “a legitimate organization” and thirdly that Mara Patani representatives be given immunity and safe passage throughout the south.

Last month, Gen. Nakrob Boonbuathong, a representative of the Internal Security Operational Command, the main domestic security agency, said that junta chief-cum-prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had approved the first request, but not the two others.

Despite a decrease in the number of violent incidents in 2015 compared to previous years, bombings and shootings continue to destabilize the three provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat — as well as four districts of the Songkla province to the north — where around 6,500 people have been killed and over 11,000 injured since 2004.

The southern insurgency 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 insurgent 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 an organization called the National Revolutionary Front or BRN — emerged.

The confrontation is one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet.

 

[Photo: Bomb explosion in Pattani, south Thailand last year on 25 May 2015. Photographer: Don Pathan/AA]

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