Truce in S Thailand turns out to be short-lived ~ The Straits Times
The successful raid on a Malay-Muslim militant camp in the remote jungles of Thailand’s troubled Muslim-majority south was a small victory for
its embattled security forces.
The only problem was that it took place on 21 and 22 July, when a ceasefire was supposed to be in operation in the region.
The Thai authorities and the insurgent group Barisan Revolusi Nasional Patani Melayu (BRN) had agreed on 12 July, at negotiations facilitated by Malaysia, to refrain from "any aggressive actions" during the month of Ramadan from 10 July to 8 August.
The agreement covered the provinces of Yala, Narathiwat ~ where the raid took place ~ Pattani, and five districts of Songkhla.
General Paradon Pattanatabut, the head of Thailand’s National Security Council (NSC) which is leading peace talks that began in February with the BRN and had agreed to the ceasefire, was caught "clueless", said a source.
He had not known the operation was being carried out.
The Thai authorities ~ while taking part in the talks, which are still at a confidence-building stage ~ are unsure whether the BRN leaders based in Malaysia have any real command over young fighters in the Thai provinces.
The ceasefire was in part to test this. But the raid last month suggests that the Thai state’s control over the army on the ground is also an issue.
The army has said militants at the camp raided by a 36-man task force had warrants of arrest against them.
But the BRN complained to the Malaysian facilitators that the Thai authorities had broken their word on the ceasefire.
Retaliatory killings by Malay-Muslim militants began, with gruesome murders including those of a Buddhist couple.
They reached a peak from Wednesday to Friday last week, with several attacks on security forces and coordinated arson attacks. The unravelling of the ceasefire was complete.
Thailand’s NSC wants to continue talking, although it will also ask for an explanation from the BRN.
However, the army, which under special laws is effectively in charge of security issues in the south, is sceptical about the talks.