Bombs and shooting in Thailand’s south kill five, injure 13

BLOODSHED::Islamic militia were suspected of being responsible for the attacks, the latest in a campaign that has killed more than 5,000

AP, HAT YAI, Thailand

Mon, Oct 21, 2013 - Page 5

A spate of bombings and drive-by shootings on Saturday in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued south left five people dead and 13 injured, police said. The injured included eight soldiers and five journalists.

In the day’s first attack, a bomb went off on a road in Ra-ngae district in Narathiwat Province, injuring six soldiers who were on foot patrol, police Colonel Jiradet Phrasawang said. Three of the soldiers were in serious condition.

The second bomb exploded an hour later about 100m from the first blast as a bomb squad and journalists were arriving at the scene, Jiradet said.

Two explosive ordnance disposal officers were hurt in the second blast, and five journalists — a Thai photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and two reporters from Thai television stations — were slightly wounded, Jiradet said.

The AFP photographer was identified as 44-year-old Madaree Tohlala.

Jiradet said Islamic insurgents were suspected of carrying out the bombings.

Later in the day in the same province, suspected insurgents staged drive-by shootings, killing four villagers riding on motorcycles, Jiradet and other police officials said.

Another attack occurred in Pattani Province, where suspected insurgents on motorcycles fatally shot a 35-year-old farmer on a roadside in Panarae district, police Colonel Manit Yimsaai said.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in predominantly Buddhist Thailand’s three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces since an Islamic insurgency erupted in 2004.

The regular attacks in the sub-region, with security officers as one of the main targets, are seen as a hindrance to the Thai government’s attempt to revive peace talks with the Muslim militants after both sides signed a breakthrough deal in February, agreeing to hold discussions to ease nearly a decade of violence.

New talks have repeatedly been postponed since insurgents in August accused the government of failing to respond to their demands.