A CONCRETE resolution has yet to be reached after Thailand’s military government and Muslim separatists based in the country’s deep south held peace talks in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur recently, which ended on Friday.
MARA Pattani, an umbrella group representing the insurgents, took part in the discussions and later told reporters in a press conference that both sides have agreed to meet again.
The group added that it would consider the junta government’s proposal to set up “safety zones”.
Last month, the nation experienced a series of small bombings and cases of arson across several Thai provinces, including popular resort towns, which killed at least four people and injured dozens of others.
However, the Muslim separatists are denying responsibility for the attacks.
According to the Straits Times, General Aksara Kerdphol, the lead negotiator from the government, said: “The other party told us they were not responsible for the violence and that they would cooperate with the government in building a peaceful situation.”
Experts have said that Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main group believed to be behind the bombings, had carried out the attacks in retaliation for being excluded from the peace talks.
On the day of the talks, Thai authorities discovered a car bomb in Narathiwat, near the Thailand-Malaysia border.
“An explosive ordnance disposal team defused a device, an 80kg gas cylinder, inside a stolen milk truck,” said Colonel Yutthanam Petchmuang, a deputy spokesman for the army’s Internal Security Operations Command.
He added that an investigation into the incident was underway, but refused to comment on whether the car bomb had any links with the peace talks.
Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat have experienced decades of unrest, taking over 6,500 lives since 2004, said Deep South Watch, an independent group monitoring the situation in the region.
In 2013, under then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the government and insurgents had begun negotiating peace terms, which were stalled when Shinawatra’s administration was overthrown in a military coup the following year.