Five soldiers hurt by road bomb in South

No let up in attacks ahead of peace talks

Six people including five soldiers were badly injured in two separate attacks in the South Saturday that followed a fatal shooting on Friday night.

The five soldiers, attached to Narathiwat Task Force 35, were injured when a 20kg home-made bomb in a gas cylinder exploded near Moo 5 village in Narathiwat's Waeng district at about 2.50pm.

The soldiers were part of the nine-member patrol. They were travelling in a Humvee with four other soldiers patrolling behind on two motorcycles.

The explosion blew the Humvee off the road and caused it to slam into a tree. The four soldiers on the motorcycles sprayed bullets at militants believed to be hiding in a forest by the roadside. The militants fled.

The five injured soldiers, including unit chief Sgt Maj 1st Class Banprot Sophavej, were rushed to hospital.

Investigators found a one-metre deep crater in the road and some wires leading into the forest.

Earlier Saturday, a 31-year-old poultry vendor was shot on a rural road at Ban Yukong, tambon Kaso of Mayo district at about 10.30am.

Suemadee Bueraheng was on his motorcycle when he was shot with a handgun by a man on another motorcycle. The gunman fled after the attack, said Pol Col Kongath Suwankham, chief of Mayo police station.

Mr Suemadee was seriously injured with several bullets in his torso.

On Friday, deputy chairman of Talohmaena tambon administration organisation was shot dead in Pattani's Thung Yangdaeng district.

Witnesses said Sofee Yapa, 46, was travelling on his motorcycle near Ban Khok Mude at about 9pm when a gunman riding pillion on another motorcycle fired at him with a handgun.

Sofee took bullets to his face and left shoulder. He was taken to Thung Yangdaeng hospital and later pronounced dead.

Police blamed separatist militants.

The daily shooting and bomb attacks in the deep South ahead of the March 28 meeting on peace talks between security authorities and insurgent representatives have raised doubts among locals as to whether the talks would help end the violence.

Pattani senator Anusas Suwannamongkol said Saturday people in the strife-torn South were placing their hopes on the meeting to begin a process to end the violence.

Although there were some questions about the credibility of Hassan Taib, Barisan Revolusi Nasional liaison office chief, who will meet with the authorities, the planned talks have given locals fresh hope, the senator said.

"We have a high expectation that the peace talks will yield some good results," Mr Anusas said.

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