BANGKOK – At least 13 bombs exploded overnight in a town in southern Thailand, and police killed two suspected insurgents in a separate operation during a 20-hour siege in a nearby province, authorities said on Saturday (Jan 29).
While officials did not immediately link the two episodes, the violence occurred just weeks after the government started talks with militants from the Malay-Muslim minority in the country’s south.
The siege occurred in Narathiwat province, where a joint army of troops and police encircled a house in the Ra-ngae area on Friday after receiving information that suspects related to last year’s bomb strikes were hiding inside.
Authorities stated that they attempted to talk with the suspects before invading the house. The raid injured one volunteer ranger and killed two suspects.
Separately, one person was hurt when at least 13 tiny explosions occurred late Friday in the town of Yala, largely on roadside in front of convenience stores, businesses, a market, an animal hospital, and a car repair shop, according to deputy police spokesperson Kissing Phathanacharoen.
On Saturday, police discovered at least three unexploded explosives consisting of spray cans and metal pipes with timers attached.
According to Kissana, authorities believe the explosions were intended to cause a commotion rather than cause damage or injury.
There was no claim of responsibility, as with most attacks in Thailand’s deep south. The region’s major rebel group, Barisan Revolusi Nasional, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
According to the Deep South Watch group, which monitors the violence, more than 7,300 people have died in a separatist insurgency in Thailand’s primarily ethnic Malay districts of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat since 2004.
Rebel organizations have sought for the independence of these Malaysian border provinces, which were part of a sultanate called Patani that Thailand acquired in 1909 as part of a contract with Britain.
After a two-year hiatus owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Thai government has resumed peace talks with the main rebel group.