World Bulletin / News Desk
At least eight people were wounded Friday as a spate of attacks shook Thailand’s Muslim majority south two days after a deputy-prime minister referred to the improving situation in the region bordering Malaysia.
Police Lt. Col. Nopsit Temongla of the Mayo district police station told The Anadolu Agency, "a bomb exploded Friday morning when a pick-up truck laden with soldiers and defense volunteers was passing on a provincial road” in Pattani.
"Two military officers and two defense volunteers were wounded," he added.
Another bomb exploded at around the same time near a beach in neighboring Narathiwat province, injuring four civilians traveling on motorbikes.
Earlier on Friday, two men riding a motorcycle fired an M16 automatic rifle at the house of a deputy-chief of a village in Songkhla province, north of Pattani. Nobody was injured in this incident.
Police investigators suspect separatist rebels of being behind the three incidents.
The series of attacks came in the wake of Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan telling reporters Wednesday that "violence had decreased substantially" in the region.
In a presentation about the post-coup military government’s performance in the last six months, Wongsuwan said, "violence has decreased by 60 percent and the loss of lives by 40 percent."
He added, "more time is needed to encourage people in southern provinces to take part in the peacebuilding and development process."
The three southernmost Thai provinces -- Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat -- constituted an independent sultanate with great religious influence in the Southeast Asian Muslim world until it was incorporated into Siam after a 1909 Anglo-Siamese agreement.
Great Britain was then the colonial master in Malaysia and exerted a degree of control over the region.
From 1938, a virulently nationalistic campaign organized by the government of Field Marshal Phibunsongkhram tried to impose Thai cultural norms on Malay Muslims, who reacted by asking for some degree of political and cultural autonomy.
Things, however, turned for the worse in the 1960s, when military dictator Field Marshal Tarit Sanarat attempted to control boarding schools, locally known as pondoks.
Several Muslim groups took up arms and started a guerrilla war against the Thai state.
The situation quieted down at the end of the 1980s and the "Southern problem" was considered solved. However, in January 2004, a new wave of attacks against the military, police and Buddhist monks shook the Thai government.
Since then, the violence has continued unabated. Outside of claiming the lives of more than 6,000 people, both Buddhists and Muslim, it has also left around 11,000 injured.Last Mod: 24 Nisan 2015, 12:32