November 14, 2016 – A car bomb explosion in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south left two men injured today, according to officials.
The two men, both deputy village chiefs in majority Muslim province of Pattani, were investigating a pickup truck parked “suspiciously” in their village when suspected insurgents set off the bomb.
Thanet Subeerun, the investigating officer in the case, said that the vehicle “was stolen and involved in a previous drive-by shooting”.
“This is the work of insurgents who want to continue creating a unstable situation at the expense of the local people,” he said.
The two men were rushed to hospital and are both expected to survive.
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.