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Policeman, suspected separatist shot in Thai south

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) - A policeman and a suspected Muslim separatist were killed in a shootout in Thailand’s restive south, and another policeman was seriously wounded, police said on Tuesday.

The incident took place on Monday evening in Pattani, one of three mainly Muslim provinces near the Malaysian border where more than 3,600 people have died in violence since 2004.

The 25-year-old police officer and the 27-year-old Muslim, believed by the police to be an insurgent, were killed when a group of soldiers, policemen and provincial officers went into a village where they suspected militants were hiding.

The wounded policeman was shot in the shoulder and leg.

Two Buddhists were killed in a separate incident earlier on Monday in Pattani, shot dead by unidentified gunmen. In neighbouring Yala province, a bomb buried under the road near the railway in Raman district exploded early on Tuesday, injuring one ranger badly while he was on patrol.

Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces were part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until they were annexed by Thailand a century ago, and separatist tensions have simmered ever since.

Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Ploy Ten Kate; Editing by Alan Raybould