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April 28, 2017

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Attacks in Thai south kill six, wound dozens

BANGKOK -- Bombing and shooting attacks have killed six people and left 27 wounded across the restive Thai south in two days of violence in the insurgency-plagued region, police said Sunday.

Five people were gunned down and over two dozen injured in a spate of incidents Saturday that spanned all three provinces in Thailand's Muslim-majority south where an eight-year conflict has claimed thousands of lives.

In Pattani, unknown gunmen shot dead a Muslim policeman, a 74-year-old Buddhist and a Muslim security volunteer in different attacks.

Another shooting in Yala targetted a Buddhist couple on their way to the local market, leaving the wife dead and the husband injured. A similar incident in Narathiwat saw a man and wife — both security volunteers on their way to a shooting training session — shot, killing the woman and wounding her husband.

Also in Narathiwat, suspected militants fired two M-79 grenades into a busy local market festival, causing injuries to 23 people, although police said none was thought to be serious.

In fresh attack early Sunday, one 18-year-old Muslim man was found shot dead in Yala, while a mother and daughter were also attacked and injured by gunmen in a separate incident in the same province.

A complex insurgency calling for greater autonomy has plagued Thailand's far south near the border with Malaysia since 2004, claiming more than 5,300 lives, both Buddhist and Muslim, with near daily bomb or gun attacks.

In response to an increase in violence over the summer, authorities in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, said they had renewed peace talks with militant leaders.

The latest attacks come a little over a week after at least six people were killed and more than 40 injured when a car bomb exploded in a busy shopping street in Sai Buri town, Pattani.

Militants opened fire on shops shortly after Friday prayers, luring security forces to the scene before detonating the bomb.

A leaflet campaign warning of violent repercussions for shops and restaurants opening on the Islamic prayer day led the vast majority of business in major towns to shutter their operations last Friday.

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