Two army rangers shot dead in Thailand’s restive south

BANGKOK (AFP) – Two army rangers were gunned down and four more wounded in a night-time ambush by suspected militants in Thailand’s south, officials said yesterday.

The region bordering Malaysia has been in the grip of a low-level but bloody insurgency for more than a decade as militants battle the state for greater autonomy.

The rangers came under fire late Tuesday in Pattani, one of the provinces worst-hit by a conflict that has killed nearly 7,000 people, while patrolling Nongchik district on motorcycles.

“Two rangers were killed at the scene of the attack and four others were wounded,” Deputy Chief Police Investigator Captain Sarawut Nuchwang told AFP. The number of attackers and their identities remain unknown.

“We suspect it was the work of the same local group who are active in this district,” southern army spokesman Colonel Pramote Prom-in said, in an apparent reference to a band of local militants. “They want to create a situation to incite unrest.”

The main militant group the Barisan Revolusi Nasional are reluctant to commit to peace talks in public.

Since Thailand’s ruling junta seized power in 2014, big attacks have become less frequent due to a combination of heightened security, arrests and intelligence work.