Two soldiers killed in Thailand's deep south

Two soldiers killed in Thailand's deep south
Members of a bomb squad unit inspect the scene following a blast from a roadside bomb planted by suspected separatist militants in the Bacho district of Thailand's restive southern province of Narathiwat on February 17, 2016.
PHOTO: AFP

NARATHIWAT, THAILAND - Two soldiers were killed in a bomb blast in Thailand's Muslim-majority deep south, police said Thursday, the latest deaths from a recent uptick in violence in the insurgency-plagued region.

Shootings and explosions are a near daily occurrence in Thailand's three southernmost provinces where more than 6,500 people - the majority civilians - have died since a rebellion against Thai rule re-ignited in 2004.

The two soldiers were killed in Chanae district, Narathiwat province, on Wednesday afternoon after a bomb was remotely detonated as their convoy rolled past, police said.

"Two died instantly at the blast site and of the five others injured two are in critical condition," Colonel Chumpol Nakapaksin, superintendent of Chanae district police told AFP by telephone.

After months of relative calm that saw violence dip slightly in Thailand's south, there has been an increase in attacks over the past few weeks.

Hours before the soldiers were killed on Wednesday, a Muslim man was found shot dead in his car in nearby Sri Sakhon district, police said. Two others were shot and injured later that evening at their home in the province.

Last week four people were shot dead in a 24-hour period including a Buddhist rubber tapper whose corpse was then set alight.

Rebels fighting for greater autonomy often target those they accuse of collaborating with the Thai state, whether Buddhist or Muslim. Thailand annexed the culturally distinct region more than 100 years ago.

Thailand's military, which seized control of the entire country in a 2014 coup, has been reaching out to some representatives from the shadowy insurgent network in an effort to start full-scale peace talks.

But there has been little progress.

Details on the internal workings of the insurgent network are scant, as the groups rarely make public statements or claim responsibility for their attacks.

Critics have cast doubt on the junta's peace efforts, pointing to routine human rights violations in the region that have bred a deep mistrust of the military among locals.

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