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Insurgency

History of Thailand’s Southern Insurgency

Jack Burton

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Whenever there’s news about violence in southern Thailand, Thaiger readers may wonder who’s fighting who, and why. So we present a brief history of the insurgency which has gripped Thailand’s southernmost provinces for decades. The area has been coined the ‘deep south’ or the ‘restive south’ and has become, statistically, a more bloody conflict than the situation on the Gaza Peninsula in the middle east.

The South Thailand insurgency (Thai: ความไม่สงบในชายแดนภาคใต้ของประเทศไทย; Malay: Pemberontakan di Selatan Thailand) is an ongoing conflict centered around southern Thailand’s disputed border region with Malaysia. Although there’s been bubbling discontent around the region since the start of the 20th century, it emerged as a serious issue for the Malaysian and Thai governments in 1948 as an ethnic and religious separatist insurgency in the historical Malay Patani region.

It has become a more complex ‘land grab’, and increasingly violent since the early 2000s due to drug cartels, oil smuggling networks, and occasionally even pirates.

The former Sultanate of Patani, which included the southern Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, also known as the three Southern Border Provinces (SBP), as well as parts of neighbouring Songkhla province and the northeastern part of Malaysia (Kelantan), was conquered and, except for Kelantan, has been governed by, Thailand (formerly The Kingdom Siam) since 1785.

Although low-level separatist violence had occurred in the region for decades, the campaign escalated after 2001, with a major recurrence in 2004, and has occasionally spilled over into other provinces. Incidents blamed on southern insurgents, including bombings, have reached as far as the capital Bangkok and the holiday island Phuket.

In 2005, PM Thaksin Shinawatra assumed wide ranging emergency powers to deal with the southern violence, but his actions served only to escalate the insurgency. In September 2006, Thaksin was ousted in one of Thailand’s peiodic military coups. The subsequent junta implemented a major policy shift, replacing Thaksin’s earlier approach with a campaign to win over the “hearts and minds” of the insurgents. Despite little progress in curbing the violence, the junta declared that security was improving and that peace would come to the region by 2008. By March of that year, however, the death toll had surpassed 3,000.

During the Democrat-led government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya noted a “sense of optimism,” but by the end of 2010 insurgency-related violence had increased, confounding the government’s optimism. Finally in March 2011, the government conceded that violence was increasing and could not be solved in a few months.

Local leaders have persistently demanded at least a level of autonomy from Thailand for the Patani region and some of the separatist insurgent movements have made a series of demands for peace talks and negotiations. However, these groups have been largely sidelined by the Barisan Revolusi Nasional-Koordinasi (BRN-C), the Muslim fundamentalist group currently spearheading the insurgency. The BRN-C has as its announced aim to make southern Thailand ungovernable and it has largely been successful.

Estimates of the strength of the insurgency vary greatly. In 2004 General Pallop Pinmanee claimed that there were only 500 hardcore ‘jihadists’. Other estimates say there as many as 15,000 armed insurgents. Around 2004 some Thai analysts believed that foreign Islamic terrorist groups were infiltrating the area, and that foreign funds and arms were being brought in, though again, such claims were balanced by an equally large body of opinion suggesting this remains a distinctly local conflict.

Over 6,500 people died and almost 12,000 were injured between 2004 and 2015 in a formerly ethnic separatist insurgency, which has currently been taken over by hard-line jihadis and pitted them against both the Thai-speaking Buddhist minority and local Muslims who have a moderate approach or who support the Thai government.

History of Thailand's Southern Insurgency | News by Thaiger

For a timeline of major events in the Southern Insurgency, click HERE.

 

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in South Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Insurgency

Bizarre final calls of 2 Southern insurgents killed in standoff

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: The house where 2 insurgents held a standoff after killing a paramilitary man and before they were shot fleeing. (via Chiang Rai Times)

The bizarre final moments are coming to light of 2 insurgents in the south of Thailand that were killed in a standoff after shooting a member of the Thai paramilitary forces. The pair shot the soldier and then retreated to a shack made of corrugated metal while security forces tried to convince them to surrender. But during that time the insurgents made phone calls and video calls and posted on social media in a surprisingly casual manner.

The standoff took place on May 4 in the village of Krong Pinang in the southern province of Yala. After footage from their video calls of their standoff and final moments went viral online, the house became somewhat of a morbid tourist attraction with an average of 1000 supporters a day walking through the bullet-riddled house as well as the nearby homes of the two men that were killed.

The two were considered heroes for the insurgency’s causes and the local neighbourhood buried them as martyrs. Well-wishers in the 3 days following their funeral donated hundreds of thousands of baht to the families of the insurgents according to family members and village elders.

The two men had shot a 27 year old paramilitary member on a tree-lined hill just a few metres away from where they took refuge in the metal shack. Dozens of security force members from the Thai government surrounded the house immediately and made calls for the insurgents to surrender, even calling in a local imam to help talk the men down. A third man that was with them at the time did surrender and was taken into custody.

The other 2 hunkered down for a fight in what would become a three-hour standoff. In the end, the pair attempted to make a run for it up the hill behind the house and into the woods. the plan failed and they were gunned down as they ran.

But before that, the two insurgents in their early 30s made a series of nonchalant phone calls to friends and family. One person made a screen recording of their call and while there is no sound available, video footage of them laughing and smiling well, holding AK-47 was soon spreading throughout Thai social media.

Those who received calls confirmed that, while the two insurgents ask their friends and families for forgiveness and told them that their phones and SIM cards would be destroyed and untraceable, the conversations were not farewell calls. Instead they were generally quite casual with the men chatting and laughing, asking their friends and family how their days were going. The calls the insurgents made provided a bizarre juxtaposition to the violence that immediately proceeded and immediately followed them.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

 

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Insurgency

Suspected insurgent killed in gunfire exchange with rangers in Thailand’s deep south

Thaiger

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Photo via Facebook/ คนรักทหารพราน

A suspected insurgent was shot and killed in a gunfire exchange with Thai rangers in Narathawit, a province in Thailand’s deep south by the Malaysian border plagued with violence from the religious separatist insurgency. 2 other men were arrested after the clash with rangers in the Bacho district this morning. Another suspected insurgent is on the run.

Rangers got a tip that 4 insurgents were hiding out at a home in the district. The rangers surround the home at around 5am this morning. The men inside the home fired shots at rangers, shooting a 28 year old soldier in the wrist. The gunfire exchange lasted about 10 minutes. A suspect, identified as Sufian Yoso, managed to escape out the back of the home.

Rangers searched the area and found the body of Suraidin Katae, also known as Madong, who had a warrant out for his arrest. Suspected insurgents Ku-afnan and Ku-amran Kupama, who are brothers, were arrested. Rangers say the men had a 11mm pistol and an AK102 rifle.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Insurgency

Thai ranger and 2 suspected insurgents killed in Thailand’s deep south

Thaiger

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Photo via Facebook/กรมทหารพรานที่ 47

In the ongoing violence from the Southern Thailand insurgency, 2 suspected insurgents and a Thai ranger were killed in a clash between security forces and an armed rebel group in Yala’s Krong Pinang district. Known as Thailand’s “deep south,” the provinces Yala, Narathiwat, and Pattani, along the Malaysia border, have been plagued with violence for years due to the religious separatist insurgency.

Law enforcement officers had received a tip that suspected insurgents, who were wanted on court warrants, were staying in the Batu Buela and Bae Chaeng villages. A team of police and soldiers, along with some civilians, were deployed to the villages. 30 year old Wan Asan Asu, who had a warrant out for his arrest, surrendered to officers while other suspected insurgents responded with gunfire.

Shots were fired from both sides for about 2 hours. Nopparit Sukson, a ranger of the Yala-based 47th Ranger Regiment, was killed in the clash. Officers searched the area after the gunfire exchange and found the bodies of 2 men who had warrants out for their arrest. Each had an AK47 rifle and one of them also had a pistol.

More officers have been called to help clear the area today.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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