4 Nov 2008

60 injured in Thailand bomb blasts

8:09 pm on 4 November 2008

At least 60 people have been injured in twin bomb blasts that ripped through a local government office and a busy tea shop in southern Thailand.

A car bomb hit about 11.15am local time outside a district office where village heads were meeting in Narathiwat province, according to police.

Minutes later, a bomb went off at a nearby tea shop.

"More than 60 injured people were hospitalised at Sukhirin district hospital and Sungai Kolok district hospital," said the police officer, who did not want to be named.

No deaths have been reported.

The first bomb hit as people gathered at a fruit market opposite the Sukhirin district office in an area near the border with Malaysia.

In separate incidents, a 47-year-old religious teacher was shot dead in Narathiwat province on Monday night, while a 41-year-old man was killed later in a similar attack in nearby Pattani province, police said.

Tuesday's explosions come a week after new Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat visited the Muslim-majority far south and told reporters that the five-year-long insurgency appeared to have eased.

More than 3,400 people have been killed in rebel attacks by shadowy insurgent groups operating in the region since January 2004 and successive governments have struggled to quell the unrest.

Thailand's three far southern provinces were an ethnic Malay sultanate until mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed the region in 1902, provoking decades of tensions.