After the roadside bombing in Yala Province which killed nine people this week and an attack on an army outpost last week that killed four in Narathiwat province, as blogged about here (and also four more people were killed in different incidents on Thursday), there is a question of what these recent attacks mean. Reuters:
Four soldiers were killed, among them the unit commander, their living quarters set ablaze and about 50 weapons looted in an assault described by IHS-Jane’s security analyst Anthony Davis as what could be the “opening shots of a new and more militarily aggressive phase of conflict.”
“The attack on the base clearly demonstrated they wish to make a point,” Davis said.
“It wasn’t just a weapons raid, it sent a political message that the government shouldn’t underestimate them and they’re not going to put down their guns and walk away.”
Srisomphob Jitphiromsri, a political scientist at Pattani’s Prince of Songkhla University, said the recent attacks showed the government may not have made as much progress as it might have thought, particularly in its public-relations drive.
The military has used development projects and a hearts-and-minds campaign to try to win support.
BP: The attacks also come after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the Deep South almost two weeks ago and talked about a reduction in the violence and the lifting of the state of emergency in one district in Pattani per AFP:
The emergency laws — which give broad powers to security forces — will be rolled back in Mae Lan district in Pattani, one of three provinces near the Malaysian border which have been under the decree since 2005.
They will be replaced by the less severe Internal Security Act.
“It shows the government is making progress in addressing the problem of unrest in the south,” said Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, noting that there was a decline in the number of violent incidents this year.
The authorities said they were also considering lifting emergency rule in two more districts, one in Yala province and another in neighbouring Narathiwat.
The government may lift state of emergency in two more districts of southern border provinces on Saturday, Deputy Interior Minister Thavorn Sennium said Monday.
He said the current state of emergency in Yala’s Betong district and Narathiwat’s Sukhirin district will expire on Saturday.
BP: Daily attacks of killing or injuring 1-2 people don’t really make the front page and go past unnoticed as it is so common, so one reason for bigger attacks is to keep the violence in the news and remind people that they are still around, that the situation is not improving (that is what they are trying to convey) and don’t want people to think that things are returning to normal.