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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
S Thailand hit by wave of bombs
A man inside a bank which was attacked in Yala
Banks across Yala province were attacked
A series of small bombs has exploded almost simultaneously at commercial banks in southern Thailand.

At least 21 banks were attacked in quick succession on Thursday morning across Yala province.

Two people have been killed and police say dozens of other people were injured in the blasts.

The attack is the latest in a string of violent incidents in the Thai south, where more than 1,300 people have been killed since January 2004.

Officials blame Muslim insurgents for much of the unrest, although criminal gangs are also thought to be behind some of the attacks.

June attacks

Police said several of the blasts occurred in Yala town, the capital of Yala province, and the rest in smaller surrounding towns.

TROUBLED SOUTH
Map of southern Thailand
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

The bombs were placed in rubbish bins and phone booths in and around banks, the head of the provincial force Major-General Paithoon Choochaiya told the Associated Press news agency.

The devices were triggered using mobile telephones, he said.

This is not the first time a series of apparently co-ordinated blasts has occurred.

In June at least 40 home-made bombs exploded across the three southern provinces, killing at least two people and injuring many others.

The southern provinces are predominantly Muslim, with a separate language and culture to much of the rest of Thailand.

Despite a heavy Thai security presence, attacks such as drive-by shootings or small bombings take place almost daily.

The casualties of such incidents are relatively few, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok, but the sheer number and frequency of bomb blasts in the south keep the region in a perpetual state of fear and mistrust.







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