World, Asia - pacific

Two killed, 3 injured in Thai insurgents' bombing

The attack comes on the eve of a report on what negotiations with insurgent groups have accomplished

09.03.2016
Two killed, 3 injured in Thai insurgents' bombing

Banghok

By Max Constant

BANGKOK

Two soldiers were killed and three injured when a power pole blown up by a remote bomb fell on their unit Wednesday in the far south of Thailand, destabilized for decades by an insurgency waged by Muslim rebels against the central Thai state.

"After the explosion, a power pole fell on a protection unit in charge of protecting teachers on their way back to home," police Col. Wisutorn Burimat, chief of the Chanae police station in Narathiwat province, one of the four southern province affected by the insurgency, told Anadolu Agency.

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

The attack came as the leader of a military government team negotiating with an umbrella organization of insurgent groups announced that tomorrow he will release a report on the results the negotiations have achieved so far.

Gen. Aksara Kerdpol told the Bangkok Post on 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 publicized widely".

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

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

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

First, the organization demanded that the southern issue be made a priority on the government’s 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 and Prime Minister Chan-ocha had approved the first request, but not the two others.

Despite a fall 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 the 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.

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