Thailand said Thursday it was holding peace talks with some Muslim insurgent groups in its violence-wracked south, in a policy reversal which follows a recent surge in militant attacks.
Informal talks are under way between the government agency in charge of the region — the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center — and several militant splinter groups, according to a deputy prime minister.
“Don’t call it negotiations… but there are talks to achieve peace which is a crucial government policy,” Yutthasak Sasiprapa, who is in charge of national security, told reporters.
“The government has assigned the Southern Border Provinces Administration Center responsibility for the talks as they are well aware who to talk to.”
The talks are with splinter groups from the Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) — one of a web of insurgent organisations believed to be behind attacks, he said.
“We talk with newly set up groups of young people which separated from the RKK,” Yutthasak said, adding that up to 9,000 insurgents overall were estimated to be operating in the violence-hit southern provinces.