The insurgent group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) claimed responsibility for the bombs and arson attacks in Thailand’s southernmost provinces, which killed at least one person and injured several others.
The attacks happened at 17 sites across Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala provinces on Tuesday night, which mostly targeted convenience stores and gas stations.
BRN, the main rebel group in Thailand, issued a statement on Thursday extending condolences to the victim’s family and claiming that the attacks were aimed at “the capitalist power” in the areas.
Police identified the victim as Masarit Mama, 21, whose charred body was found inside a torched 7-Eleven store in Narathiwat. The attackers had urged people to leave before setting fire to the store, but Masarit did not make it out in time, Bangkok Post reported, citing unnamed witnesses.
BRN stated on its Facebook page that it targeted convenience stores because they represented “Thai state capitalism,” which it held responsible for the destruction of the economic system and the closure of community shops.
“The attacks were intended to strike at the capitalist power, which is spreading fast in Patani. It is the power that is destroying the community’s economic system and causing many community shops to close,” it said.
The rebel group accused convenience store chains of causing the closures of their franchisees’ stores by offering discounts at their own nearby stores and selling counterfeit products to confuse customers.
BRN further alleged that convenience stores marketed products at high costs by lowering the amount of content sold in small packs, while blaming the Thai government and armed forces for permitting such conduct.
The attacks are the most high-profile ones since early April, when the Thai government and BRN 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. In January 2020, Thai officials held their first formal meeting in years with BRN representatives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.