Thailand bomb wounds seven, soldier shot
A SOLDIER was shot dead by suspected rebels and at least seven civilians were wounded in a bomb blast at a food stall in Thailand's restive Muslim-majority south, police said.
The attacks underlined ongoing violence in the region where near daily bombings and shootings have killed more than 2,400 people since the separatist unrest broke out in January 2004.
A 45-year-old Muslim army soldier was shot dead by two militants at point blank range Saturday in front of a convenience shop in Pattani, one of three violence-torn provinces bordering Malaysia, police said.
In nearby Narathiwat province, a bomb hidden in a motorcycle went off in front of a food stall Saturday, injuring seven people, they said. Thailand's army-backed government, which came to power following last year's coup in the Buddhist country, has offered a series of olive branches to the militants in a bid to ease violence in the south.
But the violence has escalated sharply this year despite the junta's peace initiatives, including an apology to Muslims over government abuses, prompting the military to deploy thousands more forces.