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In an unusual move, an insurgent militant affiliated with the largest Deep South insurgent group has claimed responsibility for both a recent attack on a school in Narathiwat and the Mother’s Day attack.    

A member of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the largest armed insurgent group operating in the restive Deep South, claimed that his militant unit was responsible for carrying out a recent attack in Narathiwat province on Tuesday, 6 September 2016, that killed three people, including a 4-year-old girl, the Benar News reported.  

The man added that the group also carried out the recent bombing of a train in Pattani Province on 3 September and the Mother’s Day attack, a series of explosive attacks on 11-12 August in seven upper southern provinces that killed four and injured dozens of people.    

“We claim that the attack in Tak Bai district was the act of our operation, as well as the train bombing and those attacks in the seven upper southern provinces too,” Benar News quoted the leader of a BRN combat unit known as Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), who asked not to be named, as saying.

The RKK leader told Benar News that the attacks were the group’s response to the lack of a resolution to peace talks between the Thai government and MARA Patani, an umbrella group representing various rebel groups and factions in the Deep South.

“We want to respond to the talks that have made no progress …,” the RKK leader said, adding. “[T]he government does not show their sincerity for a real peace.”

It is extremely rare for insurgent groups in the Deep South to claim responsibility for attacks in the restive Deep South where at least 6,000 lives have perished due to insurgent activities since 2004.  

To complicate matters, Krisana Yuangsa-ard, commander of the army’s 31st special unit in Narathiwat, said that an insurgent group called Romli Jehyi was behind Tuesday’s attack.

There are representatives of the BRN in MARA Patani. However, members of the group are divided over pursuing formal peace talks with the Thai government.

On 2 September, Abu Hafez Al-Hakim, a delegate and key member of MARA Patani, announced that the group and representatives of the Thai government at the Deep South peace negotiations in Malaysia had reached an agreement on the latest version of the Terms of Reference (ToR), crucial preconditions for official peace talks between the two parties.

However, Thapanee Ietsrichai, a senior reporter from Channel 3 TV later posted on her Facebook account that Gen Akkara Kerdphol, the government’s head representative at the peace talks, had publically confirmed that there had been no actual ratification of the ToR in Malaysia.

Discussions covered only the format of the talks such as what language should be used, how many people should be in the talks and budgetary issues. When the Thai government asked the insurgents about the recent bomb attacks on Mother’s Day, Mara Patani insisted that they had no involvement with the insurgency.

Deep Southerners preparing a grave for a 4-year-old victim of the bombing on 6 September 2016 in Narathiwat (Photo from Benar News)

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