Suspected Muslim separatists kill 3 Thai soldiers

by Reuters
Sunday, 3 October 2010 01:54 GMT

BANGKOK, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Three Thai soldiers were killed when suspected Muslim separatists ambushed a military patrol in the south of the country on Sunday, police said.

The soldiers were patrolling on a road in Yala province near the Malaysian border when gunmen opened fire from a nearby hill, said Colonel Pupetch Pipatpetchpoom of the Thai police.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in six years of unrest blamed on separatists in the mainly Muslim rubber-growing region in the south of predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

The southernmost Thai provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat were part of a Muslim sultanate which Thailand annexed a century ago. About 80 percent of the people in the region are Muslim and speak a Malay dialect.

The deployment of tens of thousands of police and troops backed by tough security laws has done little to quell the violence, which has remained confined to the region. (Reporting by Surapan Bbonthanom; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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