Insurgents boycott ceasefire between Thailand and separatist Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN).
Pacific Security News.- Muslim rebels involved in talks with the government say they want 'liberation' from Thailand. Photo Credit to AFP
Militants in the far South of Thailand have added businesses – big and small – to their current list of targets and Thai officials and analysts agree the insurgency is intensifying ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week.
Insurgents, however, also continue their relentless attacks on Thai security forces protecting teachers.
Fires were set at twelve locations in Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces in seemingly coordinated attacks by arsonists between 3am and 4am on Friday, most of them at shops or factories.
“They were aimed at destroying the economy in those areas,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on Thailand at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Factories set on fire in Yala included Teck Bee Hang Co, P Parawood Co, Yala Tharnthong Co and Union Plastic Ltd. Some convenience and clothing shops were also set on fire in the other two provinces.
Sunai Phasuk believed the attack underscored the opposition by some groups of insurgents to the Ramadan ceasefire agreed to between Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement.
National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradon Pattanatabut said increasing number of attacks was setting a pattern for the southern insurgency before the holy fasting month on ends.
Ramadan is to end in Thailand next Friday, Aug 9, with the Eid al-Fitr festival.
The violence-free 40-days period agreed to by Thailand and the BRN runs until Aug 18.
The latest fires called into question of the role of Malaysia, which is a facilitator of the peace dialogue between the Thai delegation and the BRN.
Lt Gen Paradon said authorities were compiling a report, including evidence and other information, to forward to Kuala Lumpur and seeking answers from asking the BRN about the rising level of violence in the southern border provinces.
Thailand expected that the reply from the BRN through Malaysia would be about their power to control insurgents on the ground and a solution to the problems.
The NSC chief remainded adamant that the talks will resume despite the violence. The date for the next meeting has not been set. Both sides agreed it will be in August, sometime after Ramadan.
Mr Sunai, of HRW, said he expected a bigger role from Malaysia. ”The Malaysian mechanism has not been used,” he said.
Failure to address the problems could hamper future talks in an effort to end southern violence.