Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2 killed, 12 wounded in attack in Thai south

Suspected Muslim insurgents opened fire on and hurled an explosive at an open-air restaurant in southern Thailand on Tuesday, killing two people and wounding

Two assailants sprayed bullets and hurled a homemade explosive at the roadside restaurant in Narathiwat province before fleeing on a motorcycle. The restaurant was packed with civil servants, security officers and civilians during lunch hour when the attack occurred.

A policeman was found dead at the restaurant, and a Buddhist woman later died at the hospital, Mongkol said. Twelve others were wounded, with most suffering minor injuries.

More than 3,700 people have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces _ Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala _ since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004. The provinces are the only Muslim-majority areas in the predominantly Buddhist country. Muslims in the region have long complained of discrimination by the central government.

A massive security presence has failed to stop the violence, which has killed both Muslims and Buddhists. The militants target people working with the government, including soldiers, police and suspected informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing.

The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.

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