November 8, 2019 / 11:48 AM / 12 days ago

Thai police accuse Muslim insurgents of attack in southern Thailand

FILE PHOTO: Thai forensic experts examine the site where village defence volunteers were killed by suspected separatist insurgents in Yala province, south Thailand, November 6, 2019. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom/File Photo

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Police in Thailand on Friday blamed the worst attack in years in the country’s restive south on the region’s main Muslim insurgent group, the Barisan Revolusi Nasional.

Fifteen people, including a police officer and many village defense volunteers, were killed on late on Tuesday when suspected separatists stormed a security checkpoint in Yala.

It was the worst single attack in years in a restive region where a long-running Muslim insurgency has killed thousands of people in a fight against central government rule in overwhelmingly Buddhist Thailand.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, as is common with such attacks in the region.

“We have evidence indicating that it was the BRN,” said Ronnasilp Pusara, a police commander in the south, referring to the Barisan Revolusi Nasional, the main insurgent group operating in the south.

“We have captured one suspect, who is now being interrogated. He also belongs to the BRN,” he said.

Reuters could not immediately reach a representative of the BRN for comment.

The separatist insurgency in Thailand’s largely ethnic Malay-Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat has killed nearly 7,000 people since 2004, says Deep South Watch, a group that monitors the violence.

In August, the BRN told Reuters it had held a secret preliminary meeting with the government, but any step toward a peace process appeared to wither after the deputy prime minister rejected a key demand for the release of prisoners.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Alex Richardson

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