Multiple bombs went off late Friday in a business and tourist area in the southern Thai province of Narathiwat, with the death toll reported to be at 4 so far and with many more injuries. The blasts took place in a tourist hotel in Sungai Kolok, a town near the Thai-Malaysia border. Police said the bombs were planted in a car and two motorcycles. Local officials said on Saturday that three bombs were detonated in Narathiwat when residents and tourists were preparing for the evening and suspected that drug dealers could have been involved in this round of violence.
The blasts are the latest in a series of violent attacks. Two days before a military vehicle was bombed by the roadside; with suspected insurgents shooting and killing five soldiers as they stumbled out of the overturned vehicle and stole their weapons. Early this month a teacher was shot on the head, his body doused in petrol and set on fire. On 23 August, as 15 soldiers escorted a group of monks to their temple, a bomb went off, injuring a monk, nine soldiers and three civilians.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister, Police General Kowit Wattana, said on Friday that security forces will increase measures as high-ranked officials are shuffled in the region. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have denounced the Islamist insurgents in the area as corrupt criminals who intend to terrorise Buddhists and Muslims and run a black market in the region peddling drugs and arms. Analysts however point out that while some of the violence is committed by criminals, Islamist insurgents are fighting for economic control of the region and domination of the population under Islamic law.
The insurgents target mainly security personnel, teachers and government officials, but they also kill Muslims working for the Thai government or acting as informants. Yingluck has ordered a senior police officer to the south to boost security, but state efforts to promote reconciliation with the insurgents have not ended the fighting.
Report: Bombs kill three on Thai-Malaysia border (Telegraph, 17 Sep 2011)
Report: Thai Violence Kills 4 (VOA, 17 Sep 2011)
Report: Thailand rocked by deadly bombs (Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Sep 2011)
Among the dead are reportedly three Malaysian nationals, along with a Thai volunteer worker. Police said that the insurgents may have targeted tourists in the bombings. Phaithoon Choochaiya, commander of Southern Border Province police, remarked, "The insurgents intended to raise the violence to the level of international terrorism by targeting foreigners."
Report: Malaysians among four dead in Thai south blasts (Straits Times, 17 Sep 2011)
Report: Three Malaysians Among Four Killed In Sungai Golok Bombings (Bernama, 17 Sep 2011)