World News

Three killed, 17 wounded in attacks in Thai south

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) - A series of drive-by shootings and bombings killed three people and wounded 17 in Thailand’s restive Muslim south, police said on Thursday.

Unknown assailants shot dead and burned the bodies of a Buddhist couple who were riding to work on a motorcycle on Thursday morning in Pattani province, police said.

A Buddhist family of three, including a 12-year-old girl, were wounded in another drive-by attack in the same province.

On Wednesday, a group of government electricians were ambushed as they worked on electrical wiring along a road, also in Pattani. One was killed and four others wounded.

A bomb was later detonated outside a tea shop in the same province, wounding four civilians, and in neighbouring Yala a bomb exploded outside an open-air market, wounding three soldiers and three civilians.

More than 3,900 people, among them Buddhists and Muslims, have been killed in six years of unrest in the rubber-rich region bordering Malaysia.

Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were part of an independent sultanate known as Patani until annexed in 1909 by predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

About 80 percent of the region’s people are Muslims who speak a Malay dialect as their first language and have long complained of discrimination, especially in education and job opportunities.

The attackers, believed to be separatists, often target Buddhists and Muslims associated with the Thai state, such as police officers, soldiers, government officials and teachers.

A massive counterinsurgency effort has shown little sign of ending the violence, which the government hopes can be tackled with a $1.9 billion economic stimulus plan to reduce economic disparity and minimise the influence of insurgents.

Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Alan Raybould