3 shot dead in restive Thai southAgence France-Presse
BANGKOK—Gunmen shot dead three men in Thailand’s restive south, police said Sunday, hours after suspected insurgents killed four soldiers in a gun attack in the same province.
The violence reflects an annual spike in unrest during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in the region bordering Malaysia, where thousands have died in a shadowy insurgency that has raged for eight years.
Police said two Buddhists were gunned down as they rode motorbikes home in Pattani on Saturday night and a Muslim man was shot dead in a separate attack in the early hours of Sunday in the same province.
The killings followed an assault on an army patrol early Saturday. Four soldiers died and two more were injured in the gun attack by around 20 armed militants, according to southern army spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-in.
On Sunday he told AFP that three suspects had been detained over that incident and were being held under emergency powers.
Authorities had warned that militants were likely to step up attacks during Ramadan.
A roadside bomb killed five policemen in nearby Yala province on Wednesday.
An insurgency, without clearly stated aims, has raged in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces – Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala – since 2004.
Daily bomb or gun attacks have targeted soldiers and civilians, Buddhists and Muslims, claiming more than 5,000 lives.
A state of emergency is in force in the worst-affected parts of the region, which rights campaigners say gives tens of thousands of military troops based there legal immunity, fueling rights abuses.