World Bulletin / News Desk
The Bangkok Post reported that security forces acting on intelligence surrounded a house in Raman district of Yala province and were shot at by a man hiding inside early in the morning.
After a ten-minute exchange of gunfire, they found the body of the suspect inside with several bullets wounds to the head.
The victim was identified as 32-year-old suspected separatist operative named Sorbri Buenae, whom police accused of involvement in bombings at eight banks in three southern provinces affected by the decades-old insurgency -- Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat -- in 2006.
The level of violence in Thailand’s far south has markedly risen since 13 bombs hit tourists areas Aug. 11-12 in the upper south -- where most of the population is Buddhist -- in what an analyst for IHS Jane’s defense group, Antony Davis, has described as a “strategic shift”.
Recent violent incidents include the detonation of a bomb placed on railway tracks and a bomb hidden in a motorcycle that destroyed a hotel lobby in Pattani, as well as an explosion in front of a school that killed a four-year-old school girl and her father in Narathiwat.
The attacks occurred after a round of talks between the military government and Mara Patani, an umbrella organization of rebel groups claiming to represent insurgents, ended inconclusively Sept. 2.
The talks, which took place in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian government acting as facilitator, could not finalize the “Terms of Reference” for further negotiations, according to Gen. Ansari Kerdphol, the lead negotiator of the military government delegation.
The meeting was held amid concerns from local analysts that Mara Patani does not represent active groups operating on the ground.
The southern insurgency is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the southern region and the Thai central state, where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.
Armed insurgent groups were formed in the 1960s after the then-military dictatorship tried to interfere in Islamic schools, but the insurgency faded in the 1990s.
In 2004, a rejuvenated armed movement -- composed of numerous local cells of fighters loosely grouped around an organization called the National Revolutionary Front or BRN -- emerged.
The confrontation is one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet, with over 7,000 persons killed and over 11,000 injured since 2004.