Thailand extended a nearly five-year state of emergency in the troubled Muslim-majority south on Tuesday, as a bomb attack by suspected insurgents blew off a senior soldier’s legs.
Prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said his cabinet had renewed emergency rule in the kingdom’s southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia for a further three months until April 19.
But he said he would push at a meeting of the national security council next month for the imposition of a law granting an amnesty to Islamist militants in the south and their sympathisers.
More than 4,100 people have died since shadowy separatist militants launched an insurgency in the region in January 2004. Emergency rule was imposed in mid-2005.
Suspected rebels detonated a roadside bomb with a mobile phone signal as a military truck escorting teachers passed by in Yala province early Tuesday, wounding four soldiers, security officials said.
The captain of the teacher protection unit lost both legs in the blast and another of the troops was also seriously wounded, they said.
The militants in the impoverished south often target teachers, deeming them a symbol of the Bangkok government’s efforts to impose Buddhist culture on the predominantly Muslim region.
Rights groups have however blamed the continued state of emergency for encouraging a culture of impunity for alleged rights abuses by the security forces.