Bombs kill two, wound 18 in Thai Muslim south

PATTANI, Thailand Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:42am GMT

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PATTANI, Thailand (Reuters) - Bombs killed two men and wounded 18 people in two separate attacks in Thailand's troubled Muslim deep south, police said on Sunday.

A 20-kg (44 lb) remote-controlled bomb, hidden in a car near the entrance of a hotel in the city of Pattani, killed one man and wounded 13 others on Saturday, police said.

Three were injured seriously in the blast which destroyed more than a dozen cars and damaged the front of the CS Pattani hotel where officials visiting from Bangkok often stay.

Pattani is one of three far south provinces where more than 2,500 people have been killed in mostly gun and bomb attacks since a separatist insurgency erupted in January 2004.

Hours after the hotel bombing, suspected militants used a mobile phone to detonate a 5 kg bomb at a Pattani school, killing one firefighter and wounding five others. The firefighters were trying to put out a fire at the school when the bomb went off.

As security forces rushed the wounded to hospital, they were ambushed by insurgents. One soldier was wounded seriously, police said.

Security personnel along with Buddhist monks and government school teachers are prime targets for militants in the region, an independent sultanate until annexed by Thailand a century ago.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for attacks in the deep south, where most people speak a Malay dialect and where the government has stationed several thousand troops in a so far unsuccessful attempt to quell the unrest.

(Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Jerry Norton)

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