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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 07:59 GMT
Violence hits southern Thailand
Home to most of Thailand's 4% Muslim minority
Muslim rebels fought the government up to the mid-1980s
Suspected militants have upped attacks since 2004, targeting Buddhists
Security forces' response criticised by rights groups

At least five people have been killed in southern Thailand after suspected Islamic militants attacked a government building, police said.

The attackers riddled the office with bullets in the village of Pado in the Pattani province, they said.

Thailand's south, where most of its minority Muslim population lives, has been hit by a two-year insurgency that has left more than 1,100 people dead.

Recent attacks have been overshadowed by anti-government rallies in Bangkok.

The gunmen attacked the office during a council meeting in the village in the largely Buddhist district of the province, police said.

The victims' identities were not immediately known.

At least one person was reportedly injured during the attack.

"Police cannot reach the site because the militants left spikes (on the road) and possibly a bomb," police officer Choke Srinualchan told the AFP news agency.

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