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Three bombs explode on railway tracks in southern Thailand
Updated: 2004-12-09 14:12

Train services in three southern Thai provinces were temporarily halted Thursday following simultaneous bomb explosions on railway tracks in a region stalked by an escalating Muslim insurgency, officials said.

Chitsanti Dhanasobhon, head of the State Railways of Thailand, said four bombs were planted on tracks in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Songkhla, with three of them exploding and the fourth being destroyed by an anti-bomb squad. No casualties were reported and only minor damage was caused by the blasts.

"The bombs were clearly targeted against passenger trains but luckily the railway inspection units got them first," Chitsanti said. Local passenger trains were ordered to suspend services until all tracks were cleared, he said.

The bombs exploded simultaneously at about 6:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) at Yala's Raman district, Pattani's Kokpo district and Songkhla's Jana district.

The bombs went off as cars, each carrying six police officers and three railways officials, were on daily routine trips to inspect the tracks and detect any explosives.

The railway protection units exchanged gunfire with suspected Muslim insurgents in Songkhla and Pattani provinces but in Yala the squad had traveled past the bomb site before the explosion, the railway official said.

Separatist insurgents have been blamed for escalating violence in southern Thailand which has taken the lives of more than 540 people this year.

The strikes against the railways took place four days after the government dropped nearly 100 million paper birds over the region in a gesture to promote peace.

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