Two Thai soldiers killed by roadside bomb

Two Thai soldiers killed by roadside bomb
A Thai Muslim walks by the Pattani Central mosque.

BANGKOK - A roadside bomb killed two soldiers in Thailand's insurgency-ridden deep south on Saturday, police said, the latest in a series of deadly attacks that have overshadowed flagging peace efforts.

The blast, which also wounded four other soldiers, struck an army truck in Pattani province shortly before midday, the authorities said.

"A 21-year-old sergeant and a 27-year-old lance corporal were killed,' Police Major Somjet Thongpan told AFP by telephone.

"One of them died on the spot and the other passed away in hospital," he added.

Over the past week more than a dozen security personnel have been killed in the restive southern region, where a shadowy conflict waged by Muslim militants has left more than 5,700 people dead since 2004.

On Thursday three paramilitary rangers building a public restroom were killed by suspected insurgents who escaped with assault rifles and a pistol.

Earlier in the week five police officers were killed in an ambush and two soldiers perished in an attack at a school.

The violence comes despite several rounds of peace talks with the rebels, who are seeking some form of autonomy for the region, which was annexed by Buddhist-dominated Thailand a century ago.

Thailand's chief negotiator said last week the negotiations should continue despite the recent wave of bloodshed.

Talks began on March 28 in neighbouring Malaysia but have so far failed to halt near-daily violence, raising questions about the rebel leaders' influence over grassroots insurgents.

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