UPDATE (Dec. 8): Just days before Malaysian and Thai leaders are set to tour Thailand's unstable south, a bomb explosion at a market in flashpoint city Narathiwat killed two and wounded nine.
The blast happened about a kilometer away from a hotel where Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Malaysian PM Najib Razak will be staying just days from now.
Source: AFP (through Channel NewsAsia), "Two dead in bomb ahead of leaders' visit to Thai south", December 8, 2009,http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1023198/1/.h....
Malaysian and Thai leaders will visit the conflict-ridden Thai south this week, where an insurgent crisis led by Muslim separatists has killed over 4,000 since violence escalated in 2004.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit the southern province of Narathiwat to take a common stand against the violence.
Though the insurgency has occurred within Thailand's official borders, and Malaysia recognizes that it is a domestic issue of Thailand, the region's history and its proximity to Malaysia (its neighbour to the south) make it an international issue.
The province was a former independent Muslim sultanate of Malaysia before being annexed by mainly Buddhist Thailand in 1902. Thailand has in the past accused Malaysia of failing to prevent the insurgents from criss-crossing the Thai-Malay border. Meanwhile, there have been reports of Thais fleeing the area for their safety, and illegally crossing into Malaysia.
To further complicate matters, the region has been racked with floods recently.
Sources: AFP (through Channel NewsAsia), "Malaysian, Thai leaders to make peace tour," December 6, 2009,http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/1022967/1/.h...
Mergawati Zulfakar, "Malaysia's hope for peace in southern Thailand," December 7, 2009, Malaysia Star, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/12/7/focus/5253333&sec=f...