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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 06:32 GMT 07:32 UK
Seven troops die in Thai bombing
Thai soldier take position in the southern province of Yala. 31/05/2007
The attack was one of the deadliest this year
A roadside bomb blast has killed at least seven soldiers in southern Thailand, police said.

The blast destroyed the truck carrying the patrolling troops in Yala province, killing them instantly.

Violence in the three southernmost, Muslim-majority provinces has killed more than 2,200 people since 2004.

Muslim insurgents have been increasingly targeting both soldiers and Buddhist civilians with bombings and gun attacks.

Police said the troops were heading to a school in Bannang Sata district to provide security for teachers.

Target

"Seven soldiers were killed and one injured," said local police commander Aniruth Im-arb.

VIOLENCE-HIT SOUTH
Map showing Thailand's southern provinces
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

"They were the security teams for local teachers," he added.

The attack was one of the deadliest this year.

Teachers have become a major target of the bloody conflict as they are seen as a symbol of the state.

More than 200 schools have been torched and 77 teachers killed, according to education officials.

Authorities decided to close more than 260 schools this week because security forces said they could not ensure that teachers and their pupils would remain safe.

In other violence on Friday, three local government leaders were killed when the car they were travelling in came under fire in the province of Pattani, AFP reports.

Five men were also injured when gunmen fired into a village teashop in Yala province, the news agency says.






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