Although little-known internationally, more than 4,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured in Thailand’s southernmost border provinces since a decades-long separatist insurgency reignited in 2004. The violence has almost exclusively been centered on the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and, to a lesser extent, Songkhla. There is concern that if the unrest continues it could transform into an ethno-nationalised centered insurgency, attracting Islamic extremists and having international reverberations.
Since 2006 and the ousting of the elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand has also been beset by national political instability, culminating in the violent governmental repression of protestors in early 2010. The protests gave a vivid indication of the deep political and social divides that exist in the country. There are widely held fears that the potential for further violence is increasing the longer a political resolution cannot be found.