Five dead in Thai shootout

Five people have been killed in a shootout in Thailand's violence-wracked south.

    Security personnel are regularly targeted in Thailand's south

    Senior police said on Monday that five attackers pretending to be fully-covered Muslim women walked up to a police checkpoint and opened fire on Sunday afternoon in Narathiwat's province's Ruso district.

    Police Colonel Watcharin Amarapitak said the gun battle lasted 10 minutes, leaving two policemen and one attacker dead at the scene, while another attacker died in hospital.

    Another of the attackers was killed in the ensuing chase, and
    police are still hunting for the two other attackers.

    Watcharin said the attack was tied to the Islamic separatist
    insurgency in Thailand's south.




    "It was not a personal issue, the shooting was related to the
    unrest," he said.


    More than 620 have been killed
    since violence erupted last year

    His allegations could not be independently verified.


    Fighting between government forces and Islamic separatists has left more than 620 people dead since a decades-old low level insurgency came to a boil in January 2004 in the mainly Muslim south along the Malaysian border.
    Members of security forces, state officials, civilians and Buddhist monks have died in the fighting.
    Muslims represent about 5% of the overwhelmingly Buddhist population of Thailand. Residents in the deep south are mostly ethnic Malays.



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