On the 8th of June, a mosque in Southern Thailand was cruelly attacked. Gunmen opened fire on praying Muslims, killing 12 people. Since then, the densely Muslim populated areas such as the Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces have been facing escalating violence. In the past week, almost daily acts of violence has occurred in the mainly Buddhist nation. The Thai government understands these acts to be attempts at beginning an all out religious conflict between the Muslims and Buddhists. Unfortunately, the attack on the mosque has provoked more violence with gunmen opening fire at a construction site in Yala last week. The gunmen’s message was, “You kill our innocents, so we kill your people”. Such a message does not encourage hope of a quick resolution to the brewing religious conflict.
Thailand’s plans to free itself of such terrorist acts are multi-fold. Last week, the Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva met with the Malaysian Prime Minister to discuss the difficulties that dual citizenship has raised. It has been found that Thai insurgents seek refuge in Malaysia after acts of violence, confident of a welcome owing to their dual citizenship. It is speculated that up to 100, 000 Thais have such dual citizenship.
Prime Minister Vejjajiva also plans to use development aid to counter the spread of terrorism. In the past week he has declared that the absolution of poverty propelled by economic development programmes will help keep any militant group from destroying the peace. He aims to fuel the economy by investing in sectors such as tourism, palm oil and rubber industries. By focusing on development rather than violent means to clamp down on the terrorist cells, the government hopes to dissuade youths from joining the sectarian groups. Meanwhile, the Thai government is determined to keep the conflict a domestic issue. Desiring to solve the problem themselves, the Thai government does not want to engage in negotiations which include multiple nations.