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Three killed in southern Thailand

world Updated: Aug 15, 2007 10:11 IST

AFP
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Separatist militants have killed two more Muslim civilians in the south of Thailand, police said on Wednesday, while a suspected rebel was shot dead as he tried to set fire to a school.

A 26-year-old man was shot dead on Tuesday evening in Narathiwat, one of three Muslim-majority provinces hit by the separatist bloodshed. Two of his friends were seriously injured in the attack, local police said.

Later that night in Yala province, a 56-year-old was stabbed to death at his rubber plantation, taking the death toll for Tuesday up to seven. A spate of shootings and a bombing earlier in the day had killed five.

Overnight, militants staged a series of acts of arson and sabotage across Pattani province, placing logs and spikes on the roads and setting fire to schools, phone booths and a local government building.

Lieutenant Colonel Pathom Thammasek, a local chief investigator, said that one suspected militant was killed in the unrest early on Wednesday.

"He entered Ban Fang school with equipment ready to set a fire, then a defence volunteer (soldier) shot him," Pathom told AFP by telephone.

Thailand's southern Muslim heartland has been sporadically hit by separatist violence since the region was annexed by Buddhist Thailand a century ago, and at least 2,400 people have been killed in the unrest since January 2004.

The situation has worsened since the military seized power in a coup last year, despite increased defence spending and a raft of peace-building initiatives here.