2 killed in Thailand as Ramadan starts
AFP & AP
NARATHIWAT TWO civilians were killed and four wounded in bomb and shooting attacks in southern Thailand, a military spokesman said on Friday, as the region marked the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
A 25-year-old male security guard was shot dead by gunmen in Pattani province on Thursday morning, while a 39-year-old man was killed later in a roadside bomb attack in neighbouring Yala, which also left one person with shrapnel injuries.
A car bomb ripped through a shopping street on Friday in the small town of Sungai Kolok, in the southernmost province of Narathiwat which borders Malaysia, wounding three people and destroying several shops and residences.
“Three people were wounded but none is serious,” Colonel Pramote Prom-in, army spokesman for the volatile region, said.
Colonel Maitree Chimcherd also said that four people were briefly trapped on the roof of a burning building.
The explosives had been packed inside pick-up truck parked on the street and triggered as people gathered at a morning market, he added.
Authorities had warned that militants were likely to attempt a large-scale attack ahead of Ramadan.
Still, residents of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani provinces flocked to local markets on Friday to shop for fresh and dried fruit including date palm to be consumed at dusk after the first day of fasting ends.
A shadowy insurgency, without clearly stated aims, has raged in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces — Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala — since 2004.
Daily bomb or gun attacks have targeted both soldiers and civilians, Buddhists and Muslims, claiming more than 5,000 lives in eight years.
A state of emergency is in force in the worst-affected parts of the region, which rights campaigners say in effect gives the tens of thousands of military troops based in the area legal immunity and fuels rights abuses.