BANGKOK : A twin bomb blast struck a school in insurgency-plagued southern Thailand today, officials said, killing two soldiers and injuring one student in a new setback to peace efforts.
Education workers, and the troops who guard them, are a top target for Muslim militants who have waged a nine-year-old campaign of violence that has left thousands of people dead.
Authorities said that militants behind Tuesday’s attack planted a first bomb to lure soldiers and then detonated a second device after they arrived at the scene.
“Two soldiers died and a male student and one soldier were injured,” army spokesman Colonel Pramote Promin said by telephone.
“The bomb was hidden under a bench near the security guard post inside the school,” he said, accusing the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) rebel group of orchestrating the attack.
“It’s the work of the BRN, which is obsessed with violence,” he said.
The ongoing attacks in the Muslim-dominated region come despite several rounds of peace talks, hosted by Malaysia, between the Thai authorities and the BRN.
Thailand has about 60,000 troops stationed in the south, where nearly a decade of conflict has left more than 5,700 people dead.
Thailand’s lead negotiator, National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut, told reporters today that he expected the next meeting with the rebels would take place in mid or late October.
Near-daily violence has raised questions about the rebel leaders’ influence over increasingly violent grassroots insurgents.– AFP