BANGKOK • One soldier died and 20 other people were wounded, including two civilians, as suspected rebels ambushed an army patrol in Thailand's violence-stricken deep south, officials said yesterday.
The Muslim-majority region that borders Malaysia has been roiled by violence for over a decade as ethnic Malay insurgents battle the Buddhist-majority state for more autonomy.
More than 6,800 people, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict.
The attack began early yesterday when a roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying army rangers in a village in the Yaha district of Yala province.
A second explosive was detonated half an hour later as bomb squad experts arrived, followed by a shootout in which suspected militants opened fire on security forces.
Southern army spokesman Pramote Prom-in said a lance corporal died, with 18 other soldiers hurt and "two villagers slightly injured".
A Yaha district policeman confirmed the toll from the attack.
The insurgents are fighting for secession from Thailand.
Until they were annexed in 1909, the provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS