Thailand’s Muslim insurgency roars back to life


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Source: Asia Times

The southern Thai province of Narathiwat, March 30, 2017. Photo: AFP/Madaree Tohlala
A new surge in lethal attacks in Thailand’s southernmost region has underscored the lack of progress in resolving the insurgent conflict after four years of military junta rule.

The restive region – spanning the three Muslim majority provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat as well as areas of neighboring Buddhist majority Songkhla – had seen a lull in violence, including over a year-long national period of mourning from October 2016-17 for deceased King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Now, the insurgency appears have sprung back to lethal life as the military takes credit for the relative calm. This month, in Pattani province’s volatile Yarang district, a Muslim village defense volunteer was shot dead by an unidentified gunman who fired several shots at close range as the victim was entering his makeshift post.

Five days earlier, in neighboring Yala province’s Krong Pinang district, a fierce gunfight ended in the death of two insurgents. Five other insurgent suspects in the vicinity were apprehended by authorities for questioning and are still being held.
On August 11, in Pattani’s Bacho district, a mother and daughter were shot dead at point blank range by assailants who stole their motorbike and jewelry.

The two victims were Buddhists, often the targets of Muslim insurgents fighting variously for independence or autonomy from the Buddhist majority Thai state.

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