Worst single attack in years. . .
An attack on two security checkpoints yesterday in southern Thailand’s Yala province has left at least 15 people dead and five wounded. A police officer and village defence volunteers were among those killed. This was the worst single attack in years in the Muslim-majority southern region that has seen intermittent violent by separatist groups that have killed approximately 7,000 people since 2004.
Ethnic and religious tensions . . .
Buddhist-majority Thailand annexed the three Malay-Muslim majority provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat in 1909. Approximately 80 per cent of the population in this region is Muslim. The Thai government introduced forced assimilation programs in the annexed provinces, provoking a local backlash. Separatist insurgencies began in 1948 and have become increasingly organized and violent since 2001. The Thai government declared martial law in the region in 2004 and about 60,000 troops occupy the region today. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha said the perpetrators must “be brought to justice.”
No end in sight . . .
The half dozen or so insurgency groups in the region continue to disparately call for everything from the implementation of Sharia Law and a stop to Thai military abuses, to more autonomy and outright separation. Since the Thai military coup in 2014, negotiations for a settlement have stalled. It remains to be seen what role if any King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who was enthroned in 2016 and has been taking more control of royal affairs and the military, will play in the matter. Global Affairs Canada has advised Canadians to “avoid all travel” in the region.
- Al Jazeera: Over a dozen killed in attack in Thailand's Yala province
- The Bangkok Post: Insurgents attack security checkpoint in Yala, 15 killed
- Deep South Watch Database: Summary of Incidents in Southern Thailand, October 2019