BANGKOK (Reuters) - A roadside bomb killed two paramilitary soldiers and wounded five others in violence-plagued southern Thailand, where the military is fighting Malay Muslim insurgents rebelling against rule by the country’s Buddhist majority.
The blast hit their vehicle during a routine patrol in the Sai Buri district of Pattani province, Colonel Pramote Prom-in, a regional security spokesman, told Reuters on Monday.
He estimated that the bomb was as large as 100 kilograms (220 pounds). A Reuters journalist at the site of the attack said it had left a crater large enough for an elephant.
As with most attacks in Thailand’s so-called deep south, there was no claim of responsibility.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in unrest since 2004 in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat bordering Malaysia.
Talks aimed at brokering peace between insurgent groups and the Thai government facilitated by Malaysia have largely stalled due to internal discord within rebel ranks and the Thai military, as well as scepticism on both sides.
Members of the insurgent group Barisan Revolusi National (National Revolutionary Front, or BRN), have largely rejected negotiations with Thailand.
The latest attack was unlikely to be related to the stalled talks, said Pramote.
“The rebels want to use violence and their target was soldiers and civilians as it has been for the past decade,” he said. “Their strategy has not changed. It is probably not to do with the talks aimed at peace.”
A second, roadside bomb placed around 3 kilometers (1.85 miles) away from the first bomb also exploded but there were no casualties, he said.
Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre, Surapan Boonthanom and Panarat Thepgumpanat; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore