Thai National Security Council: Violence in Deep South increasing
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Thai National Security Council: Violence in Deep South increasing

After a string of high-profile attacks in Thailand’s Deep South in January and February – see here, here, and here – BP noted:

Based on anecdotal evidence there has been an increase in the number of deaths over the last 30 days, but also in the number of people killed in individual incidents. It will take a few months to look at statistics and trend lines, but by just adding up half a dozen recent incidents the numbers are likely to be trending upwards as of January 2011. Is this just a blip? Or a sign of increased intensity in the violence?

Based on figures from Deep South Watch for January 2011 (from an e-mail), there were 41 people killed and 80 injured in January 2011. There is a slight increase on the average number of just over 35 deaths per month between January-September 2010. Nevertheless, the government was still insisting things were getting better. Abhisit on February 26, 2011 as reported by MCOT:

Amid criticisms by opposition members of the lower house over the government approach in solving violence in deep southern Thailand, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva reiterated Saturday that his administration is moving towards the right direction in solving the problems.

Meanwhile, combined government officials discovered a large amount of ammunition and arrested a suspicious-looking man in the troubled province of Narathiwat.

Mr Abhisit told journalists that two strategies on the policy and operational levels have been implemented in the trouble-plagued southern border provinces and that his government has been successful on a certain level as it could revoke emergency decree in four districts of Songkhla province and in nearby Mae Lan district of Pattani province.

The number of violence in the region has been reduced sharply but “still not to a satisfactory level because people are still being killed,” Mr Abhisit said.

Violence is escalating in Thailand’s insurgency-hit deep south, the Thai government said Tuesday following a string of bomb and gun attacks in the Muslim-majority region.

BP: At this point, BP would probably say that things are about the same, no worse or no better. A single month of increased violence does not necessarily signify a trend and BP would need to look at more statistics for the next couple of months to see if there was an increasing trend. The Diplomat though has a report on other attacks and some commentary on the violence from late February.

However, a few days ago, AFP reports:

I concede that the violent unrest is increasing but our officials are determined to work to their utmost ability” to resolve the problem, Tawin Pleansri, secretary general of the National Security Council, told reporters.

“It is difficult to oversee such a wide area. Although fewer incidents occurred, they were more serious,” he said.

Shadowy Islamic militants have waged an insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost region bordering Malaysia since early 2004, leaving more than 4,400 people dead, both Muslims and Buddhists.

Also, Veera in the Bangkok Post after a car bomb explosion at the block of flats housing policemen and their families in Si Sakhon district of Narathiwat:

Of course, there is no easy solution to the violence plaguing in the deep South and no one can predict how many more years it will take to bring a durable peace to the region – or if it will ever happen at all.

But for the time being, the claim by the government and the military that “we are on the right track” will be increasingly challenged – not only by academics, but also by the local people.

BP: As we see from the AFP report, even one of the government’s main security officials is not putting out the line that the violence has reduced. Will the government concede it has a problem on the Deep South again?