Two killed in attacks in Thailand's restive south

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 18, 2011 4:25 PM

PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - Suspected Islamic insurgents shot dead a retired policeman and a young Buddhist man in two separate attacks on Sunday in Thailand's restive south, police said.

The 64-year-old former policeman was jogging with friends when he was gunned down by two unidentified assailants in Pattani province, police said. Another policeman and two teachers were seriously wounded.

A 23-year-old Buddhist man was killed and his mother wounded in a drive-by shooting in the same province, police said.

More than 4,500 people have been killed since 2004 as ethnic Malay Muslims fight for autonomy from Thailand's Buddhist majority in the rubber-rich region, just a few hours by car from some of Thailand's top tourist destinations.

The attacks followed the murder of a Buddhist monk on Saturday in a gun attack that wounded two other monks, one seriously, as they collected alms.

Local Muslims largely oppose the presence of tens of thousands of police, soldiers and state-armed Buddhist guards in the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, a region that was part an independent Muslim sultanate until annexed by Thailand a century ago.

(Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Arada Kultawanich; Editing by Jason Szep and Daniel Magnowski)