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War and peace in southern Thailand

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Military personnel inspect the site of a bomb attack at Yaring district in the troubled southern province of Pattani, Thailand, on March 31.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- An upsurge in violence and an abrupt rebuff from the Thai government to a group seeking to negotiate peace have brought a long-running separatist insurgency in Thailand's Malay-Muslim South back into sharp focus.

In the short to medium term, the stage appears set for an escalation of hostilities that have already cost more than 6,500 lives and wounded more than 11,000. The renewed violence also comes amid rising fears of inroads into Southeast Asia by Islamist jihadists. In the longer term, however, the bad news may serve to reduce the 13-year-long war in Thailand's South to its essential parameters, perhaps ultimately underpinning a future settlement.

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