As Malaysia celebrated its 55th anniversary of independence on Friday, Muslim separatists in southern Thailand marked the occasion with a string of coordinated bomb attacks across the country’s three restive, Islamic-majority provinces.
On Hari Merdeka, the day which Malaysia commemorates its freedom from British colonial rule, ethnic Malays hung Malaysian flags from light poles and electricity wires and burned Thai flags to ashes — from within Thailand. The three Thai provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat have been a flashpoint for unrest and violence for many years. Despite campaign promises of greater autonomy, Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has failed at ameliorating hostility in the south.
Rather than mollifying tensions, Yingluck’s administration has witnessed a surge of disturbances of a violent nature from the insurgents, who routinely terrorize the Buddhist population by decapitating monks and parading their heads through the streets as a warning to others. It is only one problem for Yingluck, whose time in the Premiership has been beset by a litany of headaches from the flooding of Bangkok last year, to the outrageous spike in lèse majesté accusations, to the ongoing class warfare being waged between the urban and rural sectors of the country.
However, the violence in the south is quickly becoming the most deadly.
In March, there were four massive explosions in Yala that killed sixteen people and wounded over 300 more. A few days later, two unidentified men on a motobike hurled a grenade into a gas station. Throughout April, there were several instances of random and sporadic attacks. And, at the end of July during the holy time of Ramadan, five Thai security officials were killed in a car bomb.
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