The Thai government rejected calls by rebels in the country’s restive south for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan.

Rebel group Barisan Revolusi Nasional said it would “stop” its operations if the kingdom’s government meets demands, including pulling security forces back from villages to their bases, reports AFP.

The Thai army must “leave the villages and go back to their camps,” BRN spokesman Hassan Taib said in a video posted on YouTube.

“From our side, the BRN will not only reduce but stop any violent action. This is to give respect to Muslims during Ramadan,” Taib said.

He also called for a suspension of “ambushes, road blocks or arrests” in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces which border Malaysia.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung dismissed the demands, saying “there was no way” the government would concede to withdrawing security forces.

“It’s the government’s right not to accept these demands,” said Chalerm.

“The BRN cannot control their people,” he added. “I don’t believe that violence will decrease – we have to have our own security measures.”

More than 5,500 people have died in the near decade-long insurgency in Thailand’s south, with almost daily attacks on security forces and civilians despite peace talks.