Thailand's restive south hit by wave of arson and bombings

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HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) — Thailand’s southernmost provinces, which for almost two decades have been the scene of an active Muslim separatist insurgency, were hit Tuesday night by a wave of arson and bombing attacks, officials said.

At least 17 attacks occurred in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces, mostly at convenience stores and gas stations, military spokesperson Pramote Promin said Wednesday. Three civilians were reported injured. There have been no claims of responsibility.

More than 7,300 people have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 2004 in the three provinces, the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominated country. Attacks have also taken place in neighboring Songkhla province.

Muslim residents have long charged that they are treated like second-class citizens in Thailand, and separatist movements have been periodically active for decades. Heavy-handed crackdowns have fueled the discontent.

The attacks are the most high-profile ones since early April, when the Thai government and BRN — Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani, the insurgent group believed to be the biggest — agreed to halt violence during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan.

The Associated Press