A total of 102 incidents of unrest struck the four southern border provinces on Friday morning, Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) deputy spokesman Pramote Prom-in said.
Col Pramote said bombs and suspicious objects were planted in many areas, and insurgents were thought to be to blame. Thai flags were also burned and Malaysian flags hoisted to mark the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Bersatu separatist movement, an umbrella group active in the far South, and Malaysia’s National Day, Aug 31.
There were 44 incidents in eight districts of Narathiwat, 34 in Yala’s Muang, Yaha and Bannang Sata districts, 12 in Pattani’s Muang and Yarang districts, and another 12 in southern Songkhla.
Security officers were able to dismantle most of the bombs, but six soldiers were injured by explosions in different areas of Narathiwat this morning, he said.
“We believe the culprits wanted the incidents to make headlines and they chose to act on Aug 31, which coincides with the national day of Malaysia and the anniversary of the Bersatu’s establishment,” Col Pramote said. “They [the insurgents] wanted to arouse their followers in the region.”
He said the insurgents were trying to generate hatred and distrust between the people of the two neighbouring countries by burning Thai flags and raising Malaysian flags.
However, Thailand and Malaysia will continue to have a good relationship and these incidents will not cause conflict, he added.
Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa, who is in charge of security affairs, said officials in the deep South were checking footages from closed circuit television cameras and tracking down the perpetrators.
“I don’t think these incidents will hurt Thai-Malaysian ties and we’re telling Malaysia that the Bersatu is trying to get the Malaysian people involved [in the southern insurgency],” Gen Yutthasak said.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she had ordered National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Wichean Potphosri to visit the South on Saturday to oversee the situation there.
Boonsom Thongsriprai, chairman of the Federation of the Three Southern Border Provinces Teachers, said he believed the insurgents wanted to show off their strength.
Even though no teacher was killed or injured in the incidents this morning, local people had been both directly and indirectly affected, particularly teachers, he added.
Many teachers in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were terrified by the latest incidents and admitted that they had lost courage and had no confidence in their safety, he said.
Mr Boonsom said he had been in contact with all school directors in the three southernmost provinces to consider temporarily closing their schools for safety reasons, if necessary.
More than 5,000 people have been killed and over 9,000 hurt in more than 11,000 incidents, or about 3.5 a day, in the three southernmost provinces and the four districts of Songkhla since the violence erupted afresh in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch.