The Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) separatist movement has claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks on convenience stores in the far South early on Wednesday, calling them a symbol of state-backed capitalism that is ruining local economies.
Published yesterday morning on a Facebook page called BRN Barisan Revolusi Nasional Malayu Patani was a statement by the BRN in which it also offered its condolences to the family of the dead victim in the bombing and arson attacks carried out in 17 locations, mostly convenience stores, across Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.
The dead person was identified by local police as Masarit Mama, 21, a native of Sungai Kolok district in Narathiwat, whose charred body was found inside a gutted convenience store at a PTT petrol station in the district.
The BRN claimed its men had already asked all staff and customers to leave the locations before they launched their attacks.
The attacks were aimed at striking at the "power of capitalism" that is spreading rapidly in Pattani, a term normally used by southern separatist movements in referring to the three southernmost provinces, the BRN said in the same statement.
This power is ruining the communities' economic structure, considering that a huge number of local shops have been forced out of business, said the BRN.
According to the BRN, convenience stores sell goods at more expensive prices by breaking the product into smaller packs for reselling, which works out at being more expensive than the same goods sold in larger packs.
The BRN alleged the government and the armed forces were supporting the influence of convenience store chains. At least seven other people were injured in the attacks, which prompted security to be tightened across the deep South.
Narathiwat appeared to have sustained the brunt of the blitz as 10 of the 17 attacks were carried out in six of its districts, said a source.
Four main security checkpoints have been set up to screen all travellers entering the province's main city through its four key entrances, said the source, adding all travellers were being stopped for a security check yesterday and asked to show their ID cards.
National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Gen Supoj Malaniyom confirmed yesterday that levels of security were being raised to deter more violence, as they hunt down the culprits.
The government will stick to its strategy and encourage all parties to join the efforts to restore peace in the South, he said.