By Max Constant
A car bomb in Thailand’s Muslim majority south has injured five people -- the second incident overnight to rock a region plagued by an ethno-religious insurgency against the Thai central State.
The deputy-investigator at Yaring police station in Pattani province told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the bomb exploded near a store close to a Buddhist temple.
“Customers at the store had noticed a suspicious package and alerted paramilitary personal on duty. The package exploded, and, just after, the car bomb exploded outside the store injuring five people,” Police Captain Pavit Krajangsri said by phone.
Police said that earlier in the evening an explosive device was thrown by two insurgents riding a motorbike near a Buddhist temple in Nongchik district, also in Pattani province, but the device did not explode.
The incidents occurred after a series of violet attacks in late October.
On Oct. 24, a bomb exploded near a noodle shop in neighboring Pattani province, killing a 60-year-old woman and injuring 21 others, while four days later two men riding a motorcycle shot at a car in front of an education office in Mayo district.
A 49-year-old female teacher driving the vehicle died in the attack while a female civil servant was injured.
The two attackers -- both captured on security cameras -- left a note near the car with the words “for you who killed Malayu people” -- a local term that refers to ethnic Malay Muslims.
A joint statement released by the Internal Security Operational Command (ISOC), the main domestic security agency, and the National Human Rights Commission, condemned the attack as a “severe violation of human rights”.
“I ask all sectors of society, especially civic networks, to jointly denounce this act and reject all kinds of violence,” said Col. Pramote Phrom-in, deputy spokesman for ISOC in the southern region.
The National Human Rights Commission chairman also expressed indignation over the killing.
“Taking the lives of education staff is heinous and destroys the future of the nation,” What Tingsami said in a statement.
The southern insurgency -- which has destabilized the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat for decades -- is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the 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 the National Revolutionary Front, or BRN -- emerged.
After the military seized power in May 2014, the junta continued the overthrown elected civilian government’s policy of holding peace talks with insurgent groups.
But a recent report on the Thai south by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, regarded this dialogue as having “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.