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Five killed in restive Thai south: police

world Updated: Oct 27, 2009 11:20 IST
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Suspected Islamic insurgents shot dead three villagers in Thailand's restive south while a policemen and a militant were killed in a clash between rebels and security forces, police said on Tuesday.

Four militants travelling on two motorbikes killed two Buddhist villagers, aged 19 and 46, in a drive-by shooting in Pattani province on Monday afternoon, they said.

Also in Pattani, a 29-year-old militant and a border patrol police officer were killed in a gunfight on Monday evening, in which another policeman was wounded.

In a separate incident in the same province late on Monday, police said a 23-year-old Muslim villager was shot and killed by suspected rebels while he was travelling by motorcycle.

More than 3,900 people have been killed in Thailand's southernmost provinces since a bitter uprising erupted in January 2004.

The shadowy insurgents in the Muslim-majority region target civilians and security forces, both Buddhists and Muslims. Around 60,000 troops are now stationed in the area.

The region was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until 1902 when it was annexed by mainly Buddhist Thailand, sparking decades of tension.