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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 08:11 GMT
Bomb wrecks Thai 'peace offering'
Thai-Muslim student in Pattani province displays an origami bird she collected after the air drop
School children spread out nets to catch the falling paper birds
Thailand's troubled south has been hit by fresh violence, just hours after army planes dropped 100m origami birds as a peace offering.

A bomb exploded in Narathiwat province on Monday morning, injuring at least one soldier, police said.

On Sunday, as the 50 planes made their drops, suspected Muslim militants shot dead a former prosecutor in Pattani.

The bird drop caught many people's imaginations, but has been criticised by southern leaders as insufficient.

Critics said the campaign - devised by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra - would not solve the complex problems that have caused the violence in the south, where more than 500 people have been killed this year.

The paper bird drop was arranged to coincide with the 77th birthday of Thailand's revered king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, and ordinary Thais across the country wrote messages on paper birds they had folded.

Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-80s
Suspected militants have upped attacks this year, targeting Buddhists
Security forces' response criticised by rights groups

As the birds fell to their targets in the provinces of Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani, school children rushed out to collect them and seek the notes inside.

Some students constructed giant nets stretched across school yards to capture the paper cranes.

Mr Thaksin said the campaign had been a success, and would help persuade people in the south of their fellow Thais' concern.

But violence soon returned to the region.

Police said Monday's bomb appeared to have targeted police and the military. There were also unconfirmed reports of violence against a teacher and school in Yala province.

Protesters' deaths

The BBC's Bangkok correspondent says the bird drop idea was an inspired, populist move by a government that has faced severe criticism over its handling of the crisis in the south.

Mr Thaksin publicised the idea about two weeks after an incident that shocked the nation.

Following demonstrations near the Thai-Malaysian border, close to 80 Muslim protesters died after they were taken into custody and piled one on top of another into army trucks, most of them from suffocation.

The government blames insurgents for inciting the violence in the south. But critics blame an over-zealous response by security forces, whom they accuse of fighting a self-appointed war on terror.

Our correspondent says the Muslim majority in the south appeared bemused by the idea of the aerial onslaught of paper cranes.

But, while reluctant to reject any goodwill, they said a political solution would have more meaning.

Watch the paper cranes being dropped over Thailand


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