Rebels kill three, burn bodies in Thai south

PATTANI – SUSPECTED Muslim separatists shot dead three Buddhists and burned their bodies in Thailand’s restive south, police said on Thursday, the latest violence in the rubber-rich southern tip of the country.

The killings follow several high-profile attacks in the past three weeks, including a raid on an army camp, a massive roadside bombing, the execution-style shooting of a Buddhist family and a series of drive-by attacks.

The latest escalation of violence began soon after the government hailed the success of security operations and public relations campaigns in reducing the number of attacks.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said the government was considering lifting the emergency decree gradually in the region despite opposition from the army.

In the latest incident, suspected insurgents shot the three Buddhists, among them two women, as the rode in a pick-up truck in Pattani, one of three provinces bordering Malaysia where more than 4,300 people, both Muslims and minority Buddhists, have been killed in violence since 2004.

Police later found their charred bodies on the roadside next to their burnt vehicle. — REUTERS

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