Shootings in Thai south kill 4: police

Two Muslim men, aged 33 and 40, were killed yesterday in separate drive-by shootings in Narathiwat province, police said. The younger man was a security ranger on his way to guard a government building.

In Yala province today a Muslim couple, aged 40 and 45, were shot dead in an ambush as they returned home from work on a rubber plantation. The husband was also a security volunteer.

Two men in their twenties were also seriously wounded on Monday in shooting attacks in the southern region, which has been plagued by a seven-year insurgency leaving more than 4,400 people dead, both Muslims and Buddhists.

Militants are thought to target fellow Muslims they deem "traitors" to Islam. The armed forces working the south meanwhile are accused by rights activists of acting with impunity.
Narathiwat and parts of Pattani province have been hit by floods in recent days, with the rising waters forcing the closure of schools in some areas.

The government recently lifted emergency rule in a pocket of the troubled area as a test case for the rest of the Muslim-majority region. The emergency laws -- which give broad powers to security forces -- are being rolled back in Mae Lan district in Pattani, one of three provinces near the Malaysian border which have been subject to the decree since 2005.

Police said two bomb disposal policemen were killed and nine other people wounded in a blast in Narathiwat on New Year's Day after warnings of violence at the start of 2011.

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