Deadly bomb blast hits Thailand's restive south

At least four killed in explosion at checkpoint in southern Pattani province facing armed rebellion by Muslim rebels.

    More than 6,500 people have been killed in sporadic violence over the past decade in southern Thailand [Reuters]
    More than 6,500 people have been killed in sporadic violence over the past decade in southern Thailand [Reuters]

    A bomb blast at a village checkpoint in Thailand's restive south has killed four people and wounded four others, the latest deadly attack to strike the region.

    The bomb exploded late Thursday in Khok Pho district of Pattani, one of three Muslim-majority provinces where insurgents have fought for greater autonomy over the past decade.

    Police Colonel Tanongsak Wansupha, commander of Pattani police, said the bomb was planted by rebels, but as with most attacks in the region, there was no claim of responsibility.

    "The culprits placed a bomb under a chair at the checkpoint, killing four people," said Tanongsak. "This attack was to disrupt [and] stir unrest."

    Since 2004, more than 6,500 people have been killed in sporadic violence in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, all provinces bordering Malaysia.

    Thailand is a Buddhist-majority country but the south is Muslim-majority, and resistance to Buddhist rule has existed for decades.

    It has occasionally spilled into nearby Songkhla province, thronged by tourists from neighbouring Malaysia.

    The area was once part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in 1902.

    Shortly after seizing power in a 2004 coup, Thailand's ruling military government vowed to bring peace to the south within a year.

    The military government has made contact with rebel leaders, but talks aimed at brokering peace between armed groups and the Thai government facilitated by Malaysia have largely stalled because of internal discord within rebel ranks, as well as scepticism on both sides.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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