A car bomb has killed five soldiers in the latest attack in southern Thailand. Since 2004, an Islamist insurgency has killed more than 5,000 people in arson, bombings, beheadings and other attacks in the south.
The six soldiers were en route to guard farmers on their way to work in the Raman district of Yala province, 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of Bangkok, when the car bomb detonated at about 7 a.m. local time (midnight GMT). Insurgents then opened fire, killing the five soldiers and injuring a sixth. They fled after stealing the soldiers' weapons.
"We had been warning local authorities to be prepared for attacks by insurgents," Lieutanant General Udomchai Thammasarorat said. "We are on alert all the time, but today [the insurgents] had a chance and we failed to stop them."
Militants seeking independence from predominantly Buddhist Thailand began their insurgency in the Muslim-majority region in 2004. On Tuesday, four fruit merchants were shot dead in an attack police said was aimed at intimidating non-Muslims into leaving the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.
mkg/kms (AP, dpa)