By Max Constant
Three policemen have been killed and six injured in a brazen midday attack by Muslim insurgents in Thailand's troubled south.
Police colonel Pakdi Preechachon, chief of the Chanae police station, told Anadolu Agency Tuesday that the men were attacked after a bomb exploded near their vehicle.
“A pick-up truck carrying nine policemen in Chanae district in Narathiwat province lost its direction when a remote-controlled bomb hidden on the road side exploded,” Preechachon said.
“The car hit a tree and an unknown number of assailants attacked the policemen with assault rifles and grenade launchers, killing three and injuring six."
Despite a decrease in the number of violent incidents in 2015 compared to previous years, bombings and shootings continue to destabilize the three provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani – as well as four districts of the Songkla province to the north – where around 6,500 people have been killed and over 11,000 injured since 2004.
The southern insurgency is rooted in a century-old ethno-cultural conflict between Malay Muslims living in the southern region and the Thai central state where Buddhism is considered the de-facto national religion.
Armed insurgent groups were formed in the 1960s after the then-military dictatorship tried to interfere in Islamic schools, but the insurgency faded in the 1990s.
In 2004, a rejuvenated armed movement – composed of numerous local cells of fighters loosely grouped around an organization called the National Revolutionary Front or BRN – emerged.
The confrontation is one of the deadliest low-intensity conflicts on the planet.