3 policemen killed and 2 injured in militant ambush

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Three policemen were killed and two were injured in an ambush by southern militants on a local road in the middle of rubber plantations in Krong Penang district of Yala province Friday.

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The dead policemen were identified as Pol Cpl Natthapong Chartdam,28; Pol L/Cpl Suriya Nunim,32; and Pol L/Cpl Atthaphol Luathep. The two injured were identified as Pol Cpl Siriwat Yotha,30 and Pol L/Cpl Narubet Muannoi.

The five policemen were riding in a white pick-up truck which was leading a convoy of two vehicles on their way to Ban Benya in Tambon Purong to gather intelligence about drug trafficking in the locality. The two cars were travelling about 50 metre apart.

Militants, who had been hiding in the rubber plantation beside the road, detonated a bomb which was buried in the middle of the road, setting off a powerful explosion which ripped the lead car into two parts before opening fire with their automatic rifles.

Three policemen on the pick-up were killed instantly and the two others injured.

It was reported that another group of militants opened fire at the second vehicle preventing the policemen from attempting to rescue of their comrades in the first vehicle. A firefight ensued.

The militants then grabbed three automatic rifles and three handguns from the police victims before they broke contact.

A police reinforcement unit was later rushed to the scene to help the injured and have them sent to the provincial hospital.

A member of the explosive ordnance disposal said the improvised explosive device used to attack the police unit weighed about 80kgs.