Predictions

* Gun attacks in South indicate main militant group will not join peace talks in coming months, ensuring current violence persists into 2019

* Government will not agree to separatist group’s demands for autonomy for ethnic-Malay South

* Peace talks will not make any significant progress in next few years

Analysis

Gunmen killed four people, including two paramilitary rangers and a deputy village leader, in the southern province of Songkhla on 25 November. Another attack that day in Narathiwat Province also targeted paramilitary soldiers, though no one was injured. The authorities have since carried out some arrests but have not said who they believe was behind the violence. The shootings came as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on 27 November that the main separatist militant group in the ethnic-Malay South, Barisan Revolusi Nasional , has rejected three invitations to attend peace talks in recent months.

Separatist-related violence in southern Thailand has escalated this year, following a record low in 2017, as a result of growing frustration of ethnic Malays at the stalemate in the Malaysia-mediated peace talks, as well as increasing intransigence from the hardline BRN, which is the mostly likely group behind the recent shootings. The Government appointed a new chief negotiator in October, and has pressured an umbrella alliance,Mara Patani, to include the BRN, as part of Bangkok’s efforts to reinvigorate talks to reach a permanent ceasefire. However, the BRN has said it will not take part until it receives clear indications that the Government will grant autonomy for ethnic Malays, which it will not agree to do. The peace process will consequently make no progress in the coming months, meaning that the current heightened level of violence will persist into 2019.