How Militarization and Cycles of Violence Fuel Separatism in Southern Thailand

U.S. Soldiers, assigned to Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade, board a UH-60 Black Hawk during an air assault exercise with Royal Thai Army Soldiers assigned to 31st Regiment, 1st Battalion, 3rd Riffle Company, during exercise Cobra Gold 16 in Lop Buri, Thailand, Feb. 13, 2016. Cobra Gold increases cooperation, and collaboration among partner nations in order to achieve effective solution to common challenges. The U.S Soldiers are currently deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on the first leg of Pacific Pathways 16-1, the U.S. Army Pacific's premier method to capitalize on multiple training opportunities in several countries with partner militaries over a three-to-four month period. Unit: 25th Infantry Division, modified,{%22fields%22:{%22filetype%22:%22bitmap%22}}#/media/File:Air_assault_exercise_CG_16_160213-A-HH432-002.jpg

In the early hours of 3 August, rebels encircled a small Thai military outpost in Narathiwat province on the land border with Malaysia, before launching pipe bombs and opening fire with M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles. After a 15-minute gun battle, one Thai soldier was dead while four others had been injured before the insurgents fled across the Kolok River. Authorities suggested the attack may have been revenge for the killing of a suspected rebel by government troops in Pattani the previous day.

The night-time assault was one of a series of incidents of localized violence in the past few months, which typify the sporadic nature of the insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South. Muslim rebel groups in Thailand’s four Malay-speaking southern provinces have fought for independence for decades, with their motivation rooted in the conquest of the region by the Kingdom of Siam in 1785, and the 1909 Anglo-Siamese Treaty which first marked the border between Thailand and neighbouring Malaysia.

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