Five Soldiers Killed in Thailand's Restive South

By The Associated Press 11 February 2013

PATTANI, Thailand — Suspected militants killed five soldiers and wounded five others in two roadside attacks Sunday in Thailand’s insurgency-plagued southern provinces, police said.

In one of the attacks, insurgents detonated a car bomb on a road in Raman District in Yala Province as a truck carrying six soldiers passed by early Sunday, Police Maj. Torphan Pusanthia said.

The militants then opened fire on the soldiers, killing five of them, and took away the dead soldiers’ rifles, he said. One wounded soldier was rushed to a hospital.

The six soldiers were on their way to guard a group of local farmers on their way to work.

In the other attack, insurgents set off a bomb on a road in Ra Ngae district in Narathiwat province and wounded four soldiers, Police Col. Jiradet Phrasawang said.

He said the insurgents hid an improvised bomb under the road surface and detonated it as a pickup truck carrying the soldiers passed by.

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

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Sunday that the government would examine whether curfews are needed in the restive south, especially in the areas where attacks frequently occur.

“Authorities are looking into details,” Yingluck told reporters. “Any areas that are peaceful, we don’t want to announce curfews, but any areas that remain problematic, we will look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

Officials from security agencies are scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss safety measures for the southernmost provinces.

Teachers as well as security officials have been targeted as government representatives by the insurgents, who 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.

Muslims in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and part of Songkhla provinces have long complained of discrimination by the Buddhist-dominated central government.

Associated Press writer Thanyarat Doksone contributed to this report from Bangkok.