The attacks happened at 17 locations across Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala provinces, which mostly targeted convenience stores and gas stations, military spokesperson Pramote Promin said, Bangkok Post reported.
Pramote said that a petrol station in Pattani’s Nong Chick was destroyed by fire. But no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.
Thailand’s authorities believe that the attacks were aimed at destabilizing the economy and government of the provinces, which have long been the scene of an active Muslim separatist insurgency.
Pramote said the attackers Tuesday night “dressed up as women, using motorcycles and in many cases using petrol bombs, throwing them into the target sites.”
“It is clear that the insurgents remain committed to using violence on people, damaging confidence in the economy, creating uncertainty, and undermining the government system,” he said.
Police Capt. Sarayuth Kotchawong said he received a report shortly before midnight that a suspect had entered a convenience store at a gas station in Yala’s Yaha district, placed a black bag inside, and warned employees to leave if they “do not want die.” The workers left before the bag exploded 10 minutes later.
The various southern insurgent groups have not issued a consensus demand. They are a shadowy mix of veteran separatists and often loosely led groups of violent young militants.
Their goals range from greater autonomy to independence, with little indication they are related to jihadist movements in other Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines.
The attacks are the most high-profile ones since early April, when the Thai government and Barisan Revolusi Nasional agreed to halt violence during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan. In other violence since then, two Thai army ordnance experts on duty were killed by a bomb later that month.
Peace talks have been ongoing for several years under the auspices of the Malaysian government between Thai officials and Mara Patani, an umbrella body representing several insurgent groups.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.