Page last updated at 07:43 GMT, Saturday, 27 June 2009 08:43 UK

Three die in Thai rebel standoff

A Thai officer inspects the site of an explosion which killed two policemen in Pattani on June 16, 2009
Muslim insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent months

Three people have died in a gun battle in southern Thailand as security forces clashed with insurgents, police said.

A Thai police spokesman said suspected Muslim rebels opened fire on security forces who had surrounded and stormed a house in Yala province.

One police officer, a soldier, and an insurgent were killed in the standoff, the spokesman said.

More than 3,500 people have died in a five-year separatist insurgency in Thailand's three southern provinces.

Saturday's standoff came after unknown gunmen attacked a joint military and police patrol unit, Reuters news agency reported.

It said at least two gunmen managed to escape although scores of police officers and soldiers were surrounding the building.

A recent escalation in hostilities in Thailand's restive south has left around 40 people dead and 60 wounded this month alone.

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