Source: The New York Times
PATTANI, Thailand, Feb. 22 — Some are already calling it war, a brutal Muslim separatist insurgency in southern Thailand that has taken as many as 2,000 lives in three years with almost daily bombings, drive-by shootings, arson and beheadings.
It is a conflict the government admits it is losing. A harsh crackdown and martial law in recent years seem only to have fueled the insurgency by generating fear and anger and undermining moderate Muslim voices.
A new policy of conciliation in the past four months has been met by increased violence, including a barrage of 28 coordinated bombings in the south that killed or wounded about 60 people on Feb. 18.
“The momentum of violence is now beyond the control of government policy,” said Srisompob Jitpiromsri, a political scientist at Prince of Songkhla University here.
“The separatists can pick and choose the time and place of the violence without any effective resistance from the government,” he said. “They have the upper hand.”