Southern Thailand Hotel Bombing Spurs Security Warnings

March 18, 2008

Author: Simon Montlake

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Recent attacks in Thailand's restless Muslim-dominated south have rattled Thailand's new government, which called an emergency meeting March 21 with security chiefs. Two people died in a blast Saturday outside a luxury hotel in Pattani Province that is popular with Thai government officials, visiting foreign diplomats, and reporters. A separate attack Saturday was apparently thwarted when a car bomb exploded prematurely, killing the driver.

They are the most recent events in one of Southeast Asia's most lethal conflicts, and political analysts say the Thai government must sharpen its response to both the security threat and the longstanding grievances of Muslims in the predominantly Buddhist nation. A separatist insurgency in the south has claimed more than 2,900 lives since January 2004. Analysts say the violence has fallen, however, from its peak in 2007. Thailand annexed the area bordering Malaysia more than a century ago, and there have been periodic rebellions against its rule.