Insurgents in southern Thailand set fires at factories and shops across Yala, Pattani and Songkhla provinces early Friday morning, and also bombed soldiers providing teacher protection, in an increase in violence ahead of the end of the Ramadan “violence-free period”.
The militants have therefore added businesses to their list of targets. Attacks on the security forces providing protection to teachers has continued for years.
In apparently coordinated attacks between 3am and 4am, arsonists set fires at 12 locations in the three provinces.
Yala was hit hardest with four factories and a mobile phone signal tower targeted. Pattani suffered four hits, the worst at the Phithan Panich company in Nong Chik district where 64 motorcycles and bicycles were destroyed.
Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on Thailand at Human Rights Watch, said “They were aimed at destroying the economy in those area
The Yala factories set on fire were Yala Tharnthong Co, P Parawood Co, Union Plastic Ltd. and Teck Bee Hang Co.
The extent of the damage caused by the morning fires was still being evaluated by the businesses and government officials.
Some groups of insurgents oppose the Ramadan ceasefire agreement reached between Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional separatist movement.
Ramadan ends in Thailand next Friday, August 9, with the Eid al-Fitr festival. The 40-days violence-free period agreed to ends on August 18.
Malaysia has been a facilitator of the peace talks between Thailand and the BRN. Thai officials expect the talks to continue in spite of the increase in violence.
Several early morning attacks on soldiers were being assessed by security personnel responsible for school protection. One military ranger was killed in Yala in one of the attacks. Image/