Today in Terrorism: 3 November 2016, Southern Thailand

Terrorist campaign in southern Thailand has been going on for decades as once Muslim lands bristle at Bangkok rule.

Another Islamist terrorist attack in southern Thailand kills three people.

When I decided to begin this blog series “Today in Terrorism” a month and half ago, thanks to a suggestion from a friend of mine at CSIS, I had several goals in mind. These can be summarised as follows:

  • I wanted to feature a significant event in the past, ranging as far back as the 19th century;
  • I wanted to make sure I highlighted major terrorist attacks which led to the death or injury of dozens if not hundreds;
  • I wanted to choose attacks which I found interesting or which illustrated themes I wanted to develop.

To date I have not had too much difficulty achieving all three, or at least I hope I have done ok. Today may be an exception. Thankfully, on this day in November I was unable to find any one attack that struck me as a ‘must do’ – trust me this is rare. Secondly, the attack I am writing about repeats a theme I covered less than a week ago – sorry about that. In addition, I am going to cheat a bit and paste an extract on the conflict underlying this incident from a book published two years ago. I apologise if you find this unsatisfactory. I do not believe this will occur very often.

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Map showing the ‘no-go’ areas in Thailand (Photo: DFAT)

On November 3, 2016 coordinated bomb-and-gun attacks in Thailand’s strife-torn southern region killed at least three people a month after the death of revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The operations appeared to be in retaliation for stepped-up security operations taken against insurgents and were not believed aimed at the monarchy.

Here is what I wrote about the violence in southern Thailand in The Lesser Jihads:

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“The situation in southern Thailand, predominantly in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, has been festering for decades and has resulted in thousands of deaths.  The West has largely ignored the conflict for two primary reasons: it is playing out far enough away from the tourist centres further north and Westerners are not targeted for killing.  Nevertheless, the situation is dire and seems to be defying all attempts to resolve it.

It is not an exaggeration to state that there is an act of serious violence in the deep south on a daily basis.  Some of these attacks cripple infrastructure but all too often people are killed.  Those targeted by the militants/terrorists include soldiers, government representatives, police, and teachers – in essence anyone seen to be in league with the central government in Bangkok or in a position of authority. 

The military seeks to neutralise those responsible for those it believes are terrorists.  Militants have even used hospital workers and patients as “human shields” in firefights with the Thai military. Since 2004, more than 6,500 people have been killed in the southern provinces, the vast majority of them civilians.”

Check out The Lesser Jihads by Phil Gurski >

The attack on November 3, 2016 was one such incident. Expect me to write about more in the future.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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