Suspected Muslim insurgents triggered two roadside bombs before a visit to southern Thailand by the prime minister, killing two people and wounding three others, police said.
One explosion, triggered by a mobile telephone, took place just 300 meters (yards) from where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva opened an inter-provincial road three hours later, said police Maj. Gen. Sayan Krasesaen. The opening ceremony proceeded without incident.
One soldier was killed and three policemen were wounded in the attack in Yala, one of three provinces in the south where about 4,000 people have been killed since an Islamist insurgency flared in January 2004.
The provinces — Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala — are the only Muslim-majority areas in the predominantly Buddhist country. Muslims in the region have long complained of discrimination by the central government.
About an hour after the first explosion, a second bomb was set off by a mobile telephone in another area of Yala, killing one soldier, the police officer said.
Thailand has deployed a massive security force but has failed to stop the violence in the south. Militants target both Buddhists and Muslims working with the government, including soldiers, police and suspected informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing.
The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area used to be an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.