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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 May, 2004, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Blasts rock Thai Buddhist temples
Thai soldiers outside mosque in Pattani province, 29 April 2004
The government has been criticised for its handling of April's clashes
Bombs have exploded at three Buddhist temples in Thailand's troubled mainly-Muslim south.

A bystander was slightly wounded outside one temple, Reuters reports.

Police in Narathiwat province said the temples were not seriously damaged by the bombs, which went off within an hour of each other.

The blasts are the first serious incident since Thai security forces killed more than 100 suspected Muslim militants in the region last month.

The explosive devices were placed at the gates of each of the temples, in three different districts - Takbai, Ruesoh and Rangae.

"We are investigating. We believe that the people behind the explosions are people who want to create unrest," provincial police commander Colonel Kachen Kochtarayu told AFP news agency.

"We don't know who they are or what kind of bombs were used."

THAILAND'S TROUBLED SOUTH
Militant violence reported in three provinces on 29 April: Yala, Songkhla and Pattani
Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist with Muslims making up 3.8%
Separatist rebellions have occurred periodically for centuries

Southern Thailand has experienced a wave of violence this year including arson attacks and murders targeting government officials, security forces and Buddhist monks.

The worst day of violence this year was on 28 April when security forces killed more than 108 suspected militants who staged a series of attacks on police stations in three southern provinces.

The bloodiest incident that day took place when soldiers stormed a mosque in Pattani province and killed more than 30 suspects hiding inside.

Critics accuse the government of excessive force.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has ordered an independent investigation into the Pattani incident.


SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Thailand's Muslim divide
29 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Thai violence aftermath
12 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Who was behind the Thai attacks?
30 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Suspect sought over Thai attacks
05 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Grieving begins in Thailand's south
29 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
UN demands Thai clashes inquiry
30 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Thaksin Shinawatra
28 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific


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