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Five killed in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 15 Sep 2011 09:35 GMT
Author: Reuters
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PATTANI, Thailand, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Suspected Muslim insurgents shot dead five paramilitary rangers in southern Thailand on Thursday after blowing up their pick-up truck with a bomb, police said, the latest unrest in the troubled region bordering Malaysia.

The insurgents used a wire to detonate a 15-kg (33-lb) bomb under the truck carrying six rangers in Pattani's Kapor district and then emerged from woods and shot the men after the truck flipped over, police said. One of the rangers was wounded.

The gunmen also seized the rangers' M-16 assault rifles.

More than 4,600 people have been killed in seven years of unrest as ethnic Malay Muslims fight for autonomy from Thailand's Buddhist majority in the region just a few hours by car from some of Thailand's best-known tourist beaches.

Muslims in the area largely oppose the presence of tens of thousands of police, soldiers and state-armed Buddhist guards in the rubber-rich region, which was part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until annexed by Thailand a century ago.

About 80 percent of the people in Thailand's three southern provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat are Muslim.

The violence has ranged from drive-by shootings to bombings and beheadings. It often targets Buddhists and Muslims associated with the Thai state, such as police, soldiers, government officials and teachers. (Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Jutarat Skulpichetrat; Editing by Jason Szep and Robert Birsel)

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