Q+A-What’s fuelling insurgency in Thailand’s Malay Muslim south?

By Reuters Staff
January 7, 2010
Mosque in southern Thailand with Thai flags,

Mosque in southern Thailand with Thai flags,8 Sept 2009/Surapan Boonthanom

Bombs killed one security officer and wounded another in Thailand’s restive deep South on Thursday during a visit by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, underlying the failure of successive governments to tackle a separatist insurgency in the Malay Muslim-dominated region which entered its sixth year on Monday with a death toll of nearly 4,000.

The current leaders of the insurgency are unknown. The authorities have long suspected prominent local politicians, religious leaders and Islamic teachers of involvement.

Despite reports of links to radical Islamists or a global jihadi movement, there is no evidence to suggest the conflict is anything more than a localised, ethno-nationalist struggle.  However, aggressive crackdowns, any extrajudicial killings by security forces and the perceived oppression of Muslims could attract involvement by militant Islamic networks such as al Qaeda, leading to an escalation in and beyond the region.

Read the full analysis by Martin Petty here.

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