The roots of Thailand's Muslim insurgency go back to the late 18th century when Siam, as Thailand was then known, invaded the independent Sultanate of Pattani, killing its ruler and enslaving large numbers of his subjects.
Subsequent rebellions and periods of nominal independence ended when what are now the southernmost provinces of Thailand were formally annexed in 1902. What are now the northern states of Malaysia were incorporated into the then British-ruled colony of Malaya.
A harsh assimilation policy by a nationalist Thai government in the 1930s sparked resistance, which has ebbed and flowed since.
The ethnic Malays of the southern provinces of Thailand look back proudly on a past when the region was a cradle of Islamic civilization in Southeast Asia and a wealthy trading center. Pattani was declared an Islamic kingdom in 1457, AP reported.