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Two killed in Thai southern town hall raid
Updated: 2004-10-12 09:51

Unidentified gunmen stormed a town hall and nearby police station in Thailand's largely Muslim south and killed a Buddhist policeman and a Muslim defence volunteer, police said on Tuesday.

About 10 men armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers fired three grenades into Kapoh district hall in Pattani province around 2 a.m. on Tuesday (1900 GMT on Monday) and exchanged fire with the police, killing two officers before escaping, police said.

More than 360 people have been killed in the region since January when gunmen raided an army camp and killed four soldiers before escaping with about 300 M-16 assault rifles.

"The raid was intended to harm officials," Pattani police chief Tannachareon Suvanno told state-run Radio Thailand.

The raid came a day after police arrested three Muslim religious students and charged them with conspiring to kill a Thai Buddhist student at a state university in the southern city of Pattani over the weekend.

Attacks on symbols of the largely Buddhist central government, such as state buildings, and ambushes of security officers take place almost daily in the region near the border with predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

The government has used a range of tactics and personnel changes, including sacking of two defence ministers in a year, in a bid to quell unrest in the south, where most people are Muslim and speak Malay.

Thai security agencies have accused some Muslim religious boarding schools, known in Malay as pondok, of being breeding grounds for militants.

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