A powerful roadside bomb killed two Buddhist monks and wounded two soldiers in Thailand's Muslim deep south on Monday, police said, the latest attack in a region hit by seven years of separatist violence.
The bomb was hidden in a ditch in Yala province bordering Malaysia and was triggered as a pickup truck carrying the monks from a temple drove past.
The blast sent the vehicle rolling 10 metres and also wounded two soldiers assigned to protect the monks from attacks by Muslim militants. Police said the bomb was made from explosives packed into a cooking gas cylinder and weighed about 20 kg.
The intensity of violence in rubber-rich Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani has increased this year. Attacks include powerful bombings, an assassination attempt on a provincial governor and a deadly weapons raid on a poorly guarded army barracks.
The main targets are security forces and employees of the Thai state, although Buddhist monks have also been killed and there are signs of tensions between Muslims and the Buddhist minority.
Thailand's southern border, about 1,100 km away from Bangkok, is among Asia's most violent places, with more than 4,500 people killed since 2004 in gun and bomb attacks the authorities blame on rebels fighting for autonomy for ethnic Malay Muslims.
It is the only Muslim-dominated region in mainly Buddhist Thailand and was an independent Malay Muslim sultanate known as Patani until it was annexed by Bangkok in 1909.