Two bombs explode in southern Thailand
BANGKOK, Thailand – Two bombs exploded in predominantly Muslim southern Thailand on Saturday, killing a man and wounding at least 13 people in attacks blamed on insurgents.
The attacks were the latest in a recent upswing of violence blamed on suspected Islamic separatists in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – the only Muslim-majority provinces in this largely Buddhist country. More than 500 people have been killed in attacks in the area since January.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urged the region’s governors to meet with members of Parliament, religious leaders and local residents in an effort to halt the violence – but he acknowledged that “it’s not that easy to stop.”
The first bomb, believed to have been triggered by mobile phone, exploded at a market in the Tanto district of Yala province around 7 a.m., police Capt. Peerasil Ritapipat said.
A man was killed and seven people were wounded, including a 1-year-old boy. All the victims were Buddhists, he said.
Hours later, a time bomb blew up at a riverside pavilion in Narathiwat province, wounding at least six people – two police officers, two soldiers and two villagers, police Lt. Pichet Watdaung said.
Separately, a motorcycle-riding gunman shot and seriously wounded a police sergeant as he drove to work in Pattani province, police Col. Somjit Nasomyon said.
On Friday, a small bomb exploded by a roadside restaurant in Narathiwat, wounding 14 people. It was one of several apparently coordinated attacks Friday in at least five other parts of the province.
They included a bombing in Narathiwat’s Tak Bai district, where security forces suppressed a violent protest last month that left some 85 Muslims dead, including seven who were shot and 78 who suffocated or were crushed after being piled into army trucks.
More than three dozen people have been killed – two of them beheaded – since the Tak Bai protest by thousands of young Muslims seeking the release of village guards accused of giving their weapons to insurgents.
Southern Thai Muslims have long complained of discrimination, particularly in jobs and education. Critics say the government has inflamed tensions by using heavy-handed tactics.