Roadside bomb wounds 6 soldiers in Thai south

Thursday, October 8, 2009

PATTANI, Thailand — Suspected Muslim insurgents attacked a patrol of Thai soldiers in the restive south Thursday with a bomb and gunfire, wounding six, an army spokesman said.

The soldiers were patrolling the volatile Bannang Sata district of Yala Province in a pickup truck when the bomb was detonated, said army spokesman Col. Parinya Chaidilok. An unknown number of assailants then opened fire on the truck from the roadside before fleeing.

Four of the six soldiers were seriously wounded with deep shrapnel and gunshot wounds, Parinya said.

More than 3,700 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces — Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala — since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004.

At least five people have been killed and more than 50 wounded since Tuesday in scattered violence across the region, which is the only Muslim-dominated area in the predominantly Buddhist country.

A massive security presence has failed to stop the violence, which has killed both Muslims and Buddhists. The militants target people working with the government, including soldiers, police and suspected informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing.

The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century. Muslims in the region have long complained of discrimination by the central government.

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