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Thai military says it’s winning local hearts in restive south

Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces in the Thai south are the three provinces that have been dogged by decades of insurgencies launched by groups allegedly linked to foreign terrorist organizations. Although the number of insurgent attacks has gone down since 2006, insurgencies in the south have continued to draw the attention of Muslim-majority countries as the three provinces are home to Muslim-minority population in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. The Thai government’s public relations department invited journalists from seven countries, including The Jakarta Post’s Lilian Budianto, to Pattani and Narathiwat last week to witness the strategies they are adopting to deal with the situation.

The insurgency in the Thai south may have been going on for decades with no end in sight, but the military has gradually won the trust and support of the majority of local Muslims in their war after they launched a soft power strategy.

Locals said they were no longer suspicious and afraid of the military because the troops placed in the south were more engaged on how to improve the locals’ daily life in these impoverished provinces rather than running combat activities.

The Jakarta Post

TN

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