Thailand may have secured talks aimed at ending nine years of conflict in its Muslim-majority south, but analysts say the real battle lies ahead -- overcoming mistrust and winning over young rebels.
The gruelling conflict has left the population of the kingdom's southernmost provinces wary of Thai authorities and hostile to security forces, who human rights groups hold responsible for a catalogue of abuses.
Thursday's deal between Thai officials and a representative of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) rebel group to hold talks in Malaysia in a fortnight has raised tentative hopes of a political solution to the conflict.
But questions persist about the ability of older militants to curb the near-daily attacks, which have claimed more than 5,500 lives in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces.
There are concerns that a well organised and increasingly ruthless young generation of battle-hardened militants are slipping out of reach of their elders.
Near daily attacks -- including shootings, bombings and even beheadings -- have intensified over recent weeks and fears abound that the established rebel leaders, many of whom live overseas, are out of touch with the foot soldiers.
"I'm not sure this new generation can be controlled by the BRN leaders," said Angkhana Neelapaijit, of the Justice for Peace foundation, who has worked widely to expose human rights abuses in the region.
While the old generation "takes up seats at the negotiating table", Thailand has to ensure it does not forget the concerns of the younger rebels, she added.
Chief among them is accountability for abuses -- such as a scandal of fake bomb detectors that saw hundreds of people jailed with bogus evidence -- and the prospect of an amnesty for wanted militants.
A lattice of shadowy militant separatist groups are held responsible for the violence, however little is known about their precise identity and structure.
The largest and most active group is a faction of the secretive BRN, known as the BRN-C (Coordinate).
The older Patani United Liberation Organisation (PULO) also maintains some militant cells in the south, although its overseas-based leadership is less influential.
Speaking to AFP at his home in the south last year one older rebel reputed to have close links with the PULO leadership acknowledged the problem of persuading the new generation to set down their weapons.
"They will see through any attempt by the Thai state to avoid the wider issues like human rights abuses," he said, requesting anonymity.
"They have been chasing blood for a long time now."
Perhaps more worrying, analysts say, is that even if the fighting stops, authorities will have to build trust in a region that has resisted Bangkok's rule for over a century.
Decades of perceived discrimination -- such as the under-representation of the 80 percent Muslim population in the local civil service -- has embedded mistrust.
"The Thai government has a huge amount to do to shake-up the lack of trust," said Sunai Phasuk, of Human Rights Watch Asia.
"Otherwise we could end up with countless rounds of talks that fail to end the violence as they do not fundamentally win the confidence of Muslims," he said.
Justice will be central to appeasing the militants, says Anthony Davis a Thai-based security analyst at IHS-Jane's.
"Until the Thai state acknowledges military impunity is an issue... the insurgents will continue to recruit and perhaps expand their network," he said, citing the lingering fury over the deaths of 78 Muslims who suffocated in a police truck in 2004.
"In most countries that would have been met with a legal response but that hasn't happened here."
Paul Chambers of the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University said he not optimistic that the talks would result in a breakthrough.
"I am quite doubtful that this apparent breaking of the ice towards serious talks will bear actual fruit," he said.