Three Thai police officers gunned down during late-night ambush in restive south

Another bystander wounded in the attack blamed on suspected insurgents

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 11:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 July, 2014, 11:47am


Police in Thailand say suspected insurgents have shot dead three police officers in an ambush in the country’s south.

Police Colonel Pairot Meunklaharn says a group of attackers opened fire late last night on a pick-up truck carrying three police officers in Yala province’s Krong Penang district.

Pairot said a local Muslim leader who was standing in front of a mosque near the ambush scene was also wounded in the attack.

Pairot says the victims included a deputy district police commander and other two officers.

The south has been racked by violence in recent months. On May 26, shortly after the junta took over, a series of coordinated bomb attacks hit stores, petrol stations and other locations in Pattani province, in the predominantly Muslim south.

Three people were killed and 55 were injured in the bombings that ripped through the busy public areas ahead of the military's imposed curfew.

Thailand has been under martial since a military coup toppled the government in May. It was the latest convulsion in a decade-long conflict between the Bangkok-based royalist establishment and the rural-based supporters of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, another ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and has lived in self-exile since a 2008 corruption conviction, won the loyalty of the rural poor with populist policies and was the real power behind the deposed government of his sister.

Yingluck was prime minister until May 7, when a court found her guilty of abuse of power and she stepped down.

The army, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, toppled the remnants of her government on May 22, saying it needed to restore order after six months of sometimes violent anti-government protests that had brought the economy to the brink of recession.

Thailand has been without a properly functioning government since December, when Yingluck dissolved parliament and called a February election in a bid to end anti-government protests. But protesters disrupted the vote, the election was annulled, and Yingluck’s crippled caretaker government was forced to limp on.

With additional reporting from Reuters