Two soldiers were killed and six security officers wounded as insurgents mounted dozens of coordinated bombing, shooting and arson attacks in Thailand’s deep south, police said on Thursday.
Government offices, mobile phone masts and convenience stores were among the targets of 32 attacks on Wednesday evening across eight districts of Pattani province in the restive region near the Malaysian border.
Police said the casualties were all from a single ambush, with a car bomb aimed at security personnel responding to a shooting.
More than 5,500 people have been killed in several provinces in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south in nine bloody years of unrest, with shadowy insurgent groups blamed for near-daily bombings and shootings.
Security personnel and those connected with the government are regularly targeted, as well as Muslims perceived to be collabourating with the authorities.
Thailand held its first official peace talks with southern insurgents at the end of March, with a one-day meeting with representatives of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur.
But while talks were said to be cordial – and a further round was set for April 29 – attacks have continued in the region, leading to questions about the influence of BRN.
National Security Council (NSC) chief Paradorn Pattanatabut, who is heading negotiations, said Thai authorities would demand that BRN tells its militants to stop the bloodshed, but said negotiations would continue.
“Intensive talks will absolutely continue and I am compiling a list of violent incidents to present to them,” he said.