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Two soldiers beheaded in Thailand Muslim south

Suspected Muslim separatists killed and then beheaded two soldiers on Friday in Thailand's rebellious Muslim-majority south, a police officer said.

world Updated: Feb 20, 2009 11:40 IST

Suspected Muslim separatists killed and then beheaded two soldiers on Friday in Thailand's rebellious Muslim-majority south, a police officer said.

The soldiers were shot dead on their motorcycles as they guarded teachers going to school in Yala, one of the three southern provinces caught up in a separatist insurgency in which more than 3,000 people have been killed since 2003.

"At least 10 gunmen using army weapons ambushed the group, killing two soldiers. Then they beheaded them and took away their guns and bullet-proof jackets," the officer told reporters.

The rebels have never revealed themselves publicly or claimed responsibility for the violence, which has remained limited to the rubber-producing region abutting the Malaysian border.

It was a Muslim sultanate until annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand a century ago.

In an incident at the start of this month two paramilitary rangers were shot dead and decapitated in the region, and last week three policemen were killed by a bomb on a rural road.