Source AP ©

Ten killed in gun and bomb attacks across southern Thailand

Ten people, including two soldiers and five suspected Muslim insurgents, were killed and 16 civilians wounded Wednesday as rebels staged an ambush and set off bombs across southern Thailand, police said.

Five suspected Muslim insurgents were shot dead in a gunbattle with Thai soldiers in the violence-wracked region, said police Lt. Sompien Eksomya.

Attackers opened fire on a unit of soldiers on a search operation in Yala province's Bannang Sata district where Muslim insurgency has been particularly active in carrying out violent attacks, he said.

No soldiers were hurt in the hour-long firefight, Sompien said.

The 10 soldiers surrounded a neighborhood in the district in a house-to-house search for suspected insurgents involved in a bombing that killed seven soldiers in June, Sompien said.

"They were acting on a tip-off that these insurgents have been hiding in the village," said Sompien.

In separate violence, insurgents attacked troops guarding a railway line with gunfire in Yala province, killing two soldiers, said provincial police chief Col. Narasak Chiengsuk.

Also Wednesday, at least three assailants sprayed dozens of bullets into a house in Narathiwat province, killing two men, said police Lt. Vorapong Klomsakun.

In the same province, one person was killed and six injured when a bomb exploded near a market, police said.

Police said it was one of six bombs that exploded in several areas of the province Wednesday morning.

Later Wednesday, a bomb went off at a police booth in Songkhla province, killing one policeman and wounding nine others.

More than 2,300 people have been killed in the predominantly Muslim provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat and some parts of Songkhla since early 2004, when a separatist movement flared up after a lull of more than two decades.

Despite the latest attacks, the military said the situation has improved. "Daily attacks are gradually decreasing after we arrested a few hundred suspects," said Col. Akara Thiprote, the army spokesman.

Nearly 400 young Muslim men suspected of involvement with the separatist movement have been arrested and detained during the past few months, Akara said.

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