| GEO World|
Five killed, four wounded in Thai south
| Updated at: 1103 PST, Tuesday, September 07, 2010|
YALA: Five people have been killed and four wounded in Thailand's restive Muslim south, police said Tuesday, the latest upsurge in violence blamed on separatist militants.
The attacks, which included drive-by shootings and a roadside bombing, took place late Monday and early on Tuesday and targeted both Muslims and the region's minority Buddhists.
A Buddhist couple, both teachers, were killed by unknown gunmen while riding on a motorcycle early Tuesday, police said.
The shootings took place in Narathiwat province, where suspected ethnic Malay rebels torched government offices, bus shelters, shops and phone booths Sunday in simultaneous attacks in seven districts.
In Yala province's Bannang Sata, the region's most dangerous area, a Muslim woman was shot dead and three soldiers wounded in a roadside bombing late Monday, police said.
Around the same time, two Muslims were killed in separate drive-by shootings in Pattani's Sai Buri district and an assistant village leader was badly wounded in Narathiwat when unknown assailants sprayed automatic gunfire at his vehicle.
The attacks took the death toll to 18 in the past 10 days, with 37 people wounded, according to police data.
They were among the 4,100 killed and nearly 8,000 wounded since January 2004 in Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces bordering Malaysia, once an independent Malay-Muslim sultanate that was annexed by Buddhist Thailand in 1909.
No credible group has claimed responsibility for the wave of shootings, bombings, arson attacks and occasional beheadings, which analysts and the government believe is the work of separatists seeking independence or some form of self-rule.
The government has allocated a five-year, $1.93 billion economic stimulus budget, controlled by the military, in an effort to reduce economic disparity in the impoverished region and reduce the number of recruits to the rebels.