Suspected Muslim insurgents shot and killed two Buddhist civilians in separate drive-by attacks in Thailand's insurgency-plagued south, police said Wednesday.
More than 3,700 people, both Muslims and Buddhists, have been killed in Thailand's three southernmost provinces since an insurgency flared in January 2004. The provinces — Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala — are the only Muslim-majority areas in the Buddhist-dominated country. Muslims there have long complained of discrimination by the central government.
On Wednesday, attackers shot and killed a mechanic at a garage in Pattani province, burned the body and fled in a motorcycle, said Police Maj. Gen. Pichet Pitisettapan.
In another attack, gunmen shot and killed a 78-year-old Buddhist man who was riding a motorcycle home in Pattani, said Police Col. Kritsada Kaewjandee.
The insurgents have made no public pronouncements but are thought to be fighting for an independent Muslim state. The area was an Islamic sultanate until it was annexed by Thailand in the early 20th century.
A massive security force of 60,000 has failed to stop the violence. The militants target people working with the government, including teachers, soldiers, police and suspected informants. They also stage attacks on civilians that are believed to be intended to scare the Buddhist community into fleeing.