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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
Thai train ambushed by 'rebels'
A Thai soldier examines the rail track where two bombs exploded in Narathiwat province, southern Thailand
The armoured train was carrying out a routine track inspection
Suspected Islamic rebels have ambushed a train in southern Thailand, injuring at least 19 people, police say.

The armoured railway carriage was on a routine inspection of track in the province of Narathiwat when two bombs exploded, overturning the train.

The police said the rebels then opened fire on the railway officials and their police escort.

It is the latest in a string of attacks which have killed as many as 600 people in southern Thailand in the past year.

The two blasts occurred at about 0615 local time on Sunday (2315 GMT Saturday) near the station of Sungai Kolok, close to the Malaysian border.

The explosive devices were reportedly detonated by a mobile phone.

A police spokesman said the militants were waiting along the railway tracks and opened fire in the moments after the blast.

TROUBLED SOUTH
Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-80s
Suspected militants have upped attacks since 2004, targeting Buddhists
Security forces' response criticised by rights groups

Police said it returned fire - and the gunfight lasted for at least 10 minutes before the attackers managed to escape.

Among the 19 injured were 10 police officers. There have been no reports of casualties among the insurgents.

Train operations had been suspended in the area, police said.

This appears to be an escalation by the southern separatists who in the past have detonated roadside explosions, the BBC's Kylie Morris in the region reports.

The government blames a revived separatist movement in the Muslim majority south for almost daily attacks on government officials, soldiers, police and Buddhist monks.


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Police have blamed separatist rebels



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