June 8, 2009 / 4:17 PM / 8 years ago

Gunmen kill 10, wound 12 in Thai mosque attack

<p>Officials inspect dead bodies of villagers after a shooting at a mosque in southern Thailand's Narathiwat province, June 8, 2009. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom</p>

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) - Gunmen killed 10 people and wounded 12 others when they opened fire with automatic weapons at a mosque during evening prayers in Thailand’s restive Muslim south, police said on Monday.

A rubber tapper was also shot dead and nine soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb on Monday, one of the worst days of violence in months in the region bordering Malaysia where a shadowy insurgency has rumbled since 2004.

Police said at least five gunmen sprayed bullets into the mosque in the Cho Airong district of Narathiwat, one of three mainly Muslim provinces where more than 3,000 people have died in five years of near daily bomb and gun attacks.

“The gunmen sneaked into the mosque and opened fire as the victims kneeled on the floor praying,” regional army spokesman Colonel Prinya Chaidilok told Channel 11 television.

The brazen attack was one of three on Monday in Narathiwat province, which has seen a surge in violence in the last week.

A Buddhist rubber tapper was shot dead by unknown gunmen on a motorcycle in Rangae district and nine soldiers were wounded, one seriously, when a powerful roadside bomb exploded under their vehicle in neighboring Rueso district, police said.

Nineteen people have been killed and 40 injured since Friday in the region’s latest surge in violence.

No group has made a credible claim of responsibility for any of the attacks in the region, which was an independent Muslim sultanate until annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand a century ago.

Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Charles Dick

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