Separatists Express Concerns Over Virus Uptick in Deep South

A road checkpoint in Pattani province on March 26, 2020.

BANGKOK — An armed militant group active in the southern border provinces of Thailand on Friday advise the public to take care of themselves amid a growing spread of coronavirus there.

In a statement released to the media by the National Revolution Front, or BRN, the group urged residents in the Muslim-majority region to cooperate with health officials, clerics, and local communities to stem the epidemic. The virus infected at least over 1,000 people nationwide, including 38 in the five Deep South provinces.

“We don’t have to wait for policies from the government or any other side, because the number of infected is growing widely everyday,” part of the statement said, according to a translation provided by a Deep South expert.

The statement also discourages people from putting the blame of the coronavirus on any nation or group, saying it is a “mystery” to which Allah alone had the answer. It did not mention any offer of ceasefire or cessation of hostilities during the outbreak.

The BRN is considered to be the most organized and well armed insurgent group fighting for an independence in the Deep South, with a prolific record of attacks on both state and civilian targets.

About 7,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the region since the secessionist violence broke out in 2004.