NARATHIWAT, THAILAND (AFP) – Three people were killed in a jungle shoot-out between government forces and separatist rebels in Thailand’s troubled deep south, police said.
A low-level conflict has simmered in the country’s southernmost provinces since 2004, killing over 7,000 people, as rebels in the region battle for greater autonomy from the state.
Thai police and soldiers on Friday trekked up a mountain in Narathiwat province, where they encountered an armed separatist group that began shooting, according to police.
“They started to shoot at us so we had to retaliate, which left three people dead,” local police chief Suthon Sukwiset told AFP. “We discovered three M16s in their possession and have confiscated them.”
No police or troops were killed or injured in the operation, which lasted at least five hours.
Thailand’s far south is culturally distinct from the rest of the majority country, which colonised the area bordering Malaysia over a century ago.