Thai rebels barred from talks claim responsibility for Ramadan bombings

Thai rebels, who have been left out of peace talks, claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in the deep south of the Muslim-majority country on Saturday, breaking a Ramadan holiday agreed between the main rebel group and the government.

The two blasts on Friday, which killed a civilian and wounded three police officers, were carried out by “G5,” a militant group affiliated with the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO), its President Kasturi Mahkota told Reuters.

More than 7,300 people have been killed since 2004 in fighting between the government and shadowy groups seeking independence in the Malay Muslim provinces of Narathiwat, Yala, Pattani and parts of Songkhla. The area was part of the Patani Sultanate, which Thailand annexed in a 1909 treaty with Britain.

Mahkota said by phone that the blasts in Pattani province represent “business as usual” for PULO, which has been left out of talks between the government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), which agreed two weeks ago to end the violence during of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to end by May 14th.

A spokesman for Thailand’s southern security forces, Colonel Kiatisak Neewong, said without naming PULO that a group not involved in the peace talks was likely responsible for bombings aimed at disrupting the Ramadan ceasefire.

The Thai team at the peace talks and the BRN declined to comment.

“The talks are not comprehensive enough and are moving too quickly,” said Kasturi, whose group objects to the deal, which would rule out the possibility of independence from Buddhist-majority Thailand.

The talks are seeking a political solution to the decades-long conflict under the Thai constitution. Since the beginning in 2013, the talks have been frequently interrupted. The last round started in 2019.

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022. All rights reserved. Thai rebels barred from talks claim responsibility for Ramadan bombings

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