Bomb blasts kill one, wound 18 in Thailand
A bomb exploded in restive southern Thailand on Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding at least 18 people who were at the scene to investigate an earlier blast, police said.
Police were the apparent targets, but three local reporters also were wounded in the blasts in Yala province, 780 kilometers, (480 miles), south of Bangkok, said police Lt. Chob Khaewsrikan.
The first bomb exploded on Tuesday morning on a motorcycle parked outside a motorcycle shop near the railway station in Yala town. No one was wounded, but bomb squad police and reporters were sent to the scene where police found a second bomb on another motorcycle.
"Insurgents triggered the second bomb by mobile phone signal as police were about to defuse it, and it injured 19," Chob said. Police Sgt Subin Pruekmongkol, who was severely wounded, was later pronounced dead in hospital, Chob said.
Two other police officers suffered serious injuries, while three local reporters were also hospitalized, he said.
Thirteen passers-by suffered minor injuries, he said. Insurgents often use one bomb to lure authorities to a scene where they then trigger a second blast, police said. Bombings and drive-by shootings have become virtually a daily occurrence in Thailand's far south since an Islamic insurgency flared there in January 2004. The conflict has left more than 2,300 people dead.
Up to 10 per cent of Thailand's 65 million people are Muslims, most of who live in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat province where they are a majority. Muslims have long complained they are treated as second-class citizens in predominantly Buddhist Thailand. Muslims accuse government forces of extrajudicial killings, but the government claims insurgents are killing residents from both communities to stir up the conflict.