Insurgents burn bus in southern Thailand

Thai police officers inspecting the remains of a torched bus in Yala province on Dec 17, 2017.
Thai police officers inspecting the remains of a torched bus in Yala province on Dec 17, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Armed insurgents stopped and torched a Bangkok-bound passenger bus on a highway in southern Thailand on Sunday (Dec 17), police said.

All 14 passengers, as well as the bus driver and his assistant, survived the attack, although their luggage were burned with the bus.

The attack occurred in Yala, one of the predominantly ethnic Malay Muslim provinces in the south where a separatist insurgency has dragged on for more than a decade. More than 6,500 people have been killed since 2004.

Police said at least 10 gunmen were involved in the latest attack. They all escaped, blocking the road with tree trunks and nails to thwart any pursuers.

An army spokesman was not available for comment. As with most violence in Thailand's deep south, there was no claim of responsibility.

The insurgents are fighting for secession from predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

Thailand's military government has, since 2015, held talks brokered by Malaysia, aim at ending the violence. The process, which aim to established a "safety-zone" as a confidence-building measure by early next year, has been stalled.