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Islamic teacher, teen killed in Thai south: police

world Updated: Jun 30, 2009 16:18 IST

Suspected separatist militants killed an Islamic teacher and his teenaged friend in a drive-by shooting in the latest violence in Thailand's troubled south, police said on Tuesday.

A 25-year-old Muslim, a teacher in a religious school, and another Muslim aged 19 were shot late Monday by two militants who followed them as they left an evening class by motorcycle, police said.

They added they found 25 M16 bullet casings at the scene of the attack in Narathiwat province.

In another incident in Narathiwat, on Tuesday, police said militants shot senior electricity official as he drove his motorcycle back to work after lunch.

As officials and villagers gathered to help the wounded man, separatists detonated a bomb hidden in a metal box close by, injuring seven people, police said.

The victims were the latest from a spike in violence in the restive provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where more than 3,700 people have been killed in an insurgency over the past five years.

The region was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until predominantly Buddhist Thailand annexed it in 1902, provoking decades of tension.

Teachers working in mainstream non-religious schools are frequently targeted because militants see the school system as an effort by Bangkok to impose Buddhist culture on the south.

But a report by a think-tank said last week that more Muslims have been killed in the conflict than Buddhists -- many of them marked as "traitors" to Islam.

Gunmen stormed a mosque in Narathiwat during evening prayers on June 8 killing 11 people and wounding 12. Police last week offered a 5,900-dollar reward for leads on the attack.