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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Four rangers killed by bomb in rebel-hit south of Thailand

The group was on a routine early morning patrol to clear a road used by teachers in Sai Buri district when the bomb exploded, tearing their silver pickup truck in two

Military personnel search the area of a roadside bomb blast in the southern province of Pattani, Thailand, September 22, 2017. Surapan Boonthanom / Reuters
Military personnel search the area of a roadside bomb blast in the southern province of Pattani, Thailand, September 22, 2017. Surapan Boonthanom / Reuters

Four Thai army rangers were killed on Friday when a roadside bomb tore through their lorry as they were securing a road for teachers. The attack was the, latest carnage in an insurgency plaguing the predominantly Muslim region along the border between southern Thailand and Malaysia.

The region has seethed with violence for more than a decade as ethnic Malay insurgents battle the Buddhist-majority state for more autonomy.More than 6,800 people have died -- most of them civilians -- in a conflict marked by weekly bombings and shooting attacks.

The rebels mostly target security officers in the three southernmost border provinces.But teachers, local officials and other perceived collaborators with the state are also frequently swept up in the violence.

Friday's blast in Pattani province left four rangers dead and six wounded, including one civilian, said deputy army spokesman for the south, Colonel Yuthanam Petchmoang.

The group was on a routine early morning patrol to clear a road used by teachers in Sai Buri district when the bomb exploded, tearing their silver pickup truck in two and carving a crater into the rubble-strewn road.

The explosive was tucked into a drainage tunnel beneath the road and detonated after four of the ranges stepped out of their vehicle to inspect the site. The southern Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) said, "The incident was aimed to incite unrest and violence in the region without regard for the safety and livelihood of residents."

The attack comes as the Thai junta pursues talks with an umbrella group claiming to represent the rebels.So far the meetings have borne little fruit, with experts saying the rebel negotiators lack control over fighters on the ground.

The shadowy Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) faction is believed to be behind most of the violence in the region, although it never claims attacks and shuns publicity.

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