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Four troops shot dead in Thai south

world Updated: Jun 18, 2011 07:42 IST

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Unknown gunmen shot and killed four soldiers on motorbike patrol in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said on Friday.

The troops, aged between 21 and 48, died at the scene after at least four assailants opened fire from two pick-up trucks in Pattani province on Thursday evening. A teenage girl who was walking past was wounded in the attack.

Earlier on Thursday in Yala provincial town, a roadside bomb blast injured a police officer and an official from the highways department.

More than 4,500 people, both Muslims and Buddhists, have died in almost daily attacks since insurgents launched an uprising in Thailand's three southern provinces near the Malaysian border in early 2004.

Critics accuse the government of failing to address the grievances of Thailand's Malay Muslim minority, including alleged abuses by the military and a perceived lack of respect for their ethnic identity, language and religion.