YALA, Thailand, Jan 14, 2010 (AFP) - Suspected Islamic militants Thursday shot dead and burned a Buddhist couple and attacked a family of four, killing the father, as fresh violence hit Thailand's troubled south, police said.
A six-year separatist insurgency in the kingdom's Muslim-majority provinces along the Malaysian border has killed more than 4,100 people and wounded thousands more.
|A Thai police officer checks the body of a Buddhist couple, shot and burnt by suspected Muslim militants as they were driving their motorbike in Thailand's restive southern Pattani province on January 14, 2010 (AFP photo)|
Police said a 51-year-old man and his wife, 42, were on a motorcycle on their way to work at a telephone company when attackers gunned them down in Pattani, the capital of the province of the same name.
The militants then doused the Buddhist couple's bodies with gasoline and torched them in the middle of the road, police said.
Gunmen later targeted a Buddhist man, his wife, their 11-year-old daughter and 10-month-old baby girl as they travelled together by motorcycle to a school in Pattani province, said police.
The man and his elder daughter were wounded in the attack and he later died of his injuries in hospital.
Two soldiers on foot patrol were wounded in a roadside bomb attack minutes later in the province.
The insurgency erupted in January 2004 but tensions had simmered in the south ever since mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed a former Malay Muslim sultanate in 1902.
The shadowy militants have not publicly stated their goals and use a range of methods in their attacks, ranging from bombs and shootings to burnings, beheadings and even crucifixions.