BANGKOK (AFP) - Three people were killed and 14 wounded by a motorcycle bomb blast in Thailand’s deep south, officials said on Friday (Sept 18), in the latest deadly attack to strike the war-torn region.
Since 2004 more than 6,400 people have been killed, the majority civilians, in the kingdom’s Muslim-majority southern provinces where insurgents are fighting for greater autonomy.
The blast on Thursday evening struck near a grocery shop in the Rangae district of southernmost Narathiwat province, which borders Malaysia.
An army official and two civilians – a man and a woman – were killed in the attack as a series of other bombs also went off in the area without any casualties, district police commander Phakdi Preechachol told AFP.
“The most devastated location was the site of the motorcycle bomb, all the casualties were from this spot,” he said.
Among the wounded is a ranger who had a leg amputated following the attack, the commander added, while four others who sustained injuries have already been discharged from hospital.
Investigations are under way to find out who was behind the attack.
The lush, forested deep south was an ethnic Malay sultanate until Buddhist-majority Thailand annexed it more than a century ago.
Thai security forces stand accused of perpetrating severe rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings, as well as stifling the distinctive local culture through clumsy – and often forced – assimilation schemes.
Meanwhile the ethnic Malay Muslim rebels have conducted near-daily ambushes or bombings on security forces and terrorised civilians seen as sympathetic to the state – both Buddhist and Muslim – with assassinations and arson attacks.
Thailand’s ruling junta says it wants peace and has made initial contacts with rebel leaders ahead of formal talks.
But observers say ongoing political uncertainty in Bangkok, where the military seized power from an elected government last May, is likely to deter the rebels from committing to anything substantial.