Pattani bomb kills six soldiers 

A bomb beside a dirt road has killed six soldiers in southern Thailand in an apparent strike by Muslim separatists in an insurgency in which more than 6,500 people have died since 2004.

Police Major Pompetch Chotiklang said the explosion in Pattani province (pictured) also wounded four soldiers travelling in the same vehicle.

Muslim insurgents killed six Thai soldiers and wounded four on Monday in the southern province of Pattani, police said.

District police chief Colonel Pruk Liangsukwho said: “It is likely the work of violent groups in the area because this location is a red area,” in reference to the zones with higher levels of separatist violence.

The death toll was among the worst in a single incident suffered in recent years by the military in the south, said Srisompob Jitipiromsri, director of the Deep South Watch research NGO.

As with most violence in Thailand’s largely Muslim south, there was no claim of responsibility.

Violence has been sporadic in the three, ethnically Malay southern provinces for decades and intensified in 2004 but it rarely extends beyond the region to threaten the tourist hotspots of Samui and Phuket.

In 2013 eight soldiers died in a roadside bomb in neighbouring Yala province. In April 2017, six paramilitaries were killed when their vehicle was blown off the road by a bomb in Narathiwat province.

Roadside bombs and drive-by shootings are their most common means of attack. Recent talks between the government and the insurgents’ representatives amid debate about whether the groups really represent insurgent fighters.

The violence has been concentrated in the three Muslim-majority provinces near the Malaysian border: Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala.

Police say there is usually an increase in attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which runs between May 26 and June 24.

On Saturday in Pattani, two attackers shot dead two teenagers before escaping on motorbikes.

Last Friday, supposed militants on motorcycles shot dead a police officer outside a police station in Narathiwat.

Picture credit: Flickr