Fifteen people have been killed while four others were injured in an attack by suspected Muslim rebels on a security point in Yala, Thailand.
An army spokesman said that the firing incident—the worst single attack in years—occurred late Tuesday. Among those killed were village defense volunteers and a police officer.
“Twelve were killed at the scene, two more died at the hospital and one died this morning,” Colonel Pramote Prom-in said on Wednesday.
Authorities said that there were at least 10 attackers who approached on foot to attack the defense volunteers at about 11:20 pm.
The attackers also used explosives, set tyres to fire, fell a tree, bombed a power pole, and scattered nails on the road to prevent pursuers, he added.
They also hindered emergency services rushing to the scene of the attack. Three rescue vehicles were disabled.
Officials said the attackers stole an assault rifle, two shotguns and five pistols from the checkpoint victims.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich quoted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha as saying that the perpetrators must “be brought to justice.”
Don Pathan, an expert on the so-called deep south, said that the attack was a reminder that “they (rebels) are still here.”
The regions is under martial law and is heavily policed by the military and trained civilian volunteers.
Some rebel groups claimed that they are fighting to establish an independent state and accused the state of railroading their distinct culture as well as carrying out routine abuses which go unpunished.
The Malay-Muslim south has been in the grip of a bloody insurgency that has killed more than 7,000 people over the last 15 years.
Tuesday’s violence came months after the death of a Muslim rebel suspect, Abdulloh Esormusor, who was left in a coma after being interrogated at a notorious Thai detention center.
Suspects are routinely taken for interrogation and held under emergency laws in detention centers.
Days after Abdulloh’s detention, a late-night attack killed four people on a military outpost, triggering speculation that rebels were crafting a retaliatory operation.
Several small bombs also exploded in Bangkok a week later, injuring four people as the city hosted an Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) summit that was attended by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
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