A recent round-up report from police has revealed that security personnel casualties from the southern violence more than doubled last year in the region that has been witnessing near-daily attacks for the past 10 years.
The report from the Police Operational Centre in the Southern Provinces said the death toll among police officers and militants in the Deep South more than doubled to 129 from 60 in 2012. The deaths came despite a series of peace talks between government representatives and insurgent groups.
A total of 267 officials and civilians were slain by separatist attacks, 6 of whom were teachers and a monk. 51 militants were also killed last year, following a rise in the number of raids and blockades in the troubled region. Out of 513 security warrants, 562 suspects were arrested.
In 2012, 21 police, 39 military personnel and 223 civilians were killed by the unrest.
The Army has recently expressed concern over the rising number of violent attacks in the far South after three bombs went off in downtown Sadao district of Songkhla province on Sunday, injuring 27 people. The first blast damaged part of the Oliver Hotel and more than 20 shops and entertainment venues. Later the same day a motorcycle bomb went off in the parking lot at the Padang Besar police station and another bomb exploded in the parking lot of Sadao station. All military units have been instructed to step up security in light of the latest development.
Tourism has been reeling in the province usually popular with tourists and local visitors. Songkhla governor Kritsada Boonraj said the blasts had led to a 50% plunge in hotel room reservations in Sadao district. Foreign tourists had reportedly lost confidence in travelling to Sadao.
Separatist violence erupted in January 2004 and incidents of violence have occurred frequently in Thailand’s three Muslim, ethnic-Malay dominated southern border provinces, which include Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla.
According to the Internal Security Operations Command, during the past decade, insurgent violence in Thailand’s Deep South has left 5,926 people dead and 10,593 others injured. A total of 15,192 violent incidents took place in these regions from Jan 4, 2004 to Dec 31, 2013.
3,461 of those who died were Muslims, 2,431 Buddhists and the rest from other religious groups.