Thailand urges vigilance in south after attacks

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 19 2011 04:06 PM | Updated as of Apr 20 2011 12:06 AM

BANGKOK, Thailand - Thailand on Tuesday urged authorities in its insurgency-ridden southern provinces to step up security surveillance after a string of deadly attacks in the region.

In the latest incident, a paramilitary soldier and two teenage suspected Islamic militants were killed late on Monday in a gun battle following an ambush on an army outpost in Pattani province, local police said.

Hours earlier a car bomb exploded in the main city in neighbouring Yala province, leaving one army ranger dead and 23 other people wounded, including civilians.

"I understand the officials are working hard but they must step up surveillance and oversee public safety, especially in towns, to boost public confidence," Suthep Thaugsuban, deputy prime minister in charge of national security, told reporters.

Shadowy insurgents have waged an uprising in Thailand's southernmost region bordering Malaysia since early 2004, leaving more than 4,500 people dead, including both Muslims and Buddhists.

Suthep said that crime, including drug dealing, was contributing to the violence.

Three southern provinces have been under emergency rule since 2005, giving the military broad powers of arrest.