XFive suspected insurgents were killed during a gunfight in Thailand’s restive deep south, police said on Thursday, the latest violence in the Muslim region plagued by eight years of separatist conflict.
The gunmen were killed after police surrounded a suspected insurgent hideout in a village in Yala, one of three Malay Muslim-dominated provinces where 5,000 people have been killed in violence since 2004.
The shootout comes amid heightened tensions following three coordinated car bombs in two southern Thai cities 140 km (85 miles) apart, one a major tourism and commercial hub, that killed 13 people on March 31.
Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces were part of an ethnic Malay Muslim sultanate before they were annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand in 1909.
Separatist tensions have simmered ever since, with resentment running deep among local Muslims about the presence and conduct of the more than 60,000 police, soldiers and paramilitary who are based in the region and have failed to quell the rebellion.