Separatist negotiators to try to halt violence in southern Thailand for Muslim holy month

A Malaysian official says Muslim separatist negotiators will attempt to halt all violence in insurgency-plagued southern Thai provinces throughout the Islamic fasting month.

The pledge by the National Revolution Front group is the biggest test so far of whether peace talks that began this year with the Thai government might yield substantive results.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in Buddhist-dominated Thailand's southernmost, Muslim-majority provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004.

A Malaysian government representative facilitating the negotiations said Friday that rebel officials will try to curb all armed attacks and bombings through August 18.

Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim said the pledge was part of "a common understanding to work toward achieving a violence-free Ramadan," the Muslim holy month of fasting that began this week.