A Thai policeman was killed, and four others injured when a roadside bomb detonated as their vehicles passed near a hospital in southern Thailand, police said.
A police motorcycle and a patrol truck were travelling together when both were hit by the blast in front of a hospital in Mai Kaen town, Pattani province, on Tuesday night, police captain Wasuwat Kongtuk said on Wednesday.
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The explosion killed an officer on a motorcycle and caused the police truck to veer off the road before crashing into an electrical pole. Three officers in the truck were rushed to the hospital for treatment.
Police believe the bomb was planted in a rubbish bin in front of the hospital and that it was detonated remotely.
TV footage on Wednesday showed damage to the Mai Kaen hospital exterior and a shrapnel hole in the Mai Kaen Kittiwit school, which was located opposite the hospital. The school was ordered to close for the day.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers sealed off the area and combed nearby streets for evidence.
Southern Thailand is in the grip of a low-level rebellion led by Muslim fighters, who have long complained of discrimination by the country’s Buddhist majority.
The rebels are mostly active in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala and often attack government targets. The southern region bordering Malaysia is heavily policed by Thai security forces and is also culturally distinct having been colonised by Thailand just over a century ago.
Last month, a wave of at least 17 coordinated arson attacks and explosions targeted convenience stores at petrol stations in the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat leaving seven people suffering minor injuries.
The COVID-19 pandemic had brought a lull in southern clashes between rebels and the military, but a six-day gun battle in October last year killed six people.
More than 7,300 people have been killed in Thailand’s southern conflict since 2004, according to the Deep South Watch group, which monitors the violence in southern Thailand.