Three monks and two volunteer rangers were injured when the van they were travelling in was caught in a roadside bomb blast in Narathiwat's Rueso district on Friday morning.
The explosion occurred in Soi Charoen Rat 2 near an agricultural equipment shop in tambon Rueso Ok of the district at 6.25am just as a white van carrying three monks passed nearby from Wat Phairot Pracharam.
The monks were in the locality to collect alms.
Pol Col Thanya Lamboon, head of Reuso police station, said security forces, including Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officers, a special unit of Narathiwat Provincial Police and forensic experts were rushed to the scene immediately after the alarm was raised.
Upon arrival they found the three injured monks, as well as two injured rangers escorting them. One of the rangers, Chaichit Namkhet, who was driving the vehicle, reportedly suffered shrapnel wounds to the head.
All the injured were taken to Rueso Hospital, assisted by the agricultural equipment shop owner, Mustaha Yama, and several other villagers.
Soldiers inspect the scene of the bomb blast in Narathiwat's Rueso district on Friday. (Photo: Abdullah Benjakat)
Authorities meanwhile had sealed off the area to allow the EOD officers to examine the blast site.
Fragments of a powerful improvised explosive device were found scattered in the vicinity. The device containing about 50 kilogrammes of explosives had been packed into a cooking gas cylinder and placed near a 1,000-litre water tank, police said.
It was triggered by radio control, causing an explosion with a 100-metre blast radius, police added.
As well as the van, the agricultural shop was slightly damaged, as were three nearby houses and two pickup trucks. Police blamed the blast on an insurgent group operating in the area.
A source said the incident was similar to one that occurred nearby in December 2021 when a security unit was escorting several monks from Wat Rat Samoson to collect alms. That early morning blast injured one monk, one villager and two rangers.
The latest incident has raised concern among locals that monks and Buddhists may have become the target of insurgent groups again, said the source.