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Dozens of bombs rattle south Thailand; 2 killed

/ Source: The Associated Press

Suspected Muslim insurgents exploded more than 40 bombs in attacks on government offices across Thailand’s restive south on Thursday, killing at least two people as the deputy prime minister visited the region, officials said.

At least 16 people were injured in the blasts, most of which went off between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. as people headed to work in the three Muslim-majority provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala, said Yala Governor Boonyasit Suwanarat.

Regional police chief Lt. Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew said bombs had exploded at 41 locations in the three provinces.

One of the bombs went off at a government office in Yala minutes before Deputy Prime Minister Chitchai Wannasathit was due to visit the area. Chitchai is in charge of overseeing security in Thailand’s south.

Prior indications of attack
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that intelligence had indicated insurgents were planning a major operation Thursday. But the government’s security prevention network was “not good enough” to prevent the attacks, Thaksin said.

“Chitchai is in the areas now to inspect the situation,” Thaksin said, adding that he would also visit the region soon.

Both deaths occurred in Pattani province. A blast at the provincial town hall killed a security officer, and a local official was killed by a bomb in a tea shop known to draw a morning crowd of government employees, said Police Maj. Gen. Korkiat Wongworachat.

Many of the bombs were planted inside bathrooms of provincial town offices and police stations. Three police officers were injured in Yala, and five marines were hurt in neighboring Narathiwat, Korkiat said.

Authorities jammed cellular telephone signals in the area to prevent insurgents from using mobile phones to detonate more bombs, he said.

The insurgents — who have made no public demands but are believed to favor independence for Thailand’s three southernmost provinces — often attack symbols of state authority.

More than 1,300 people have been killed since violence flared in early 2004.