NARATHIWAT, March 28 – Three Thai rangers were killed and five others wounded in a bomb ambush by militants in a remote village in this Muslim predominant province in Thailand’s restive South late last night.
The attack took place in Cho-airong district only hours before the first peace dialogue between the Thai government and Muslim insurgent leaders was to open in Malaysia this morning.
The bomb exploded as a group of 12 rangers was on patrol near the home village of Masae Useng, a fugitive in connection with a gun robbery at a major military base in 2004.
Police said the insurgents hid a home-made bomb near a lamp post in a rubber plantation and detonated it when the patrol group approached the area.
Two rangers died on the spot and the third was pronounced dead as he was rushed to a hospital. Five rangers suffered minor injuries.
In the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, a 15-member Thai delegation, led by National Security Council Secretary General Paradorn Pattanathabut, joined closed-door peace talks with core insurgent members of a few militant groups, expected to be led by Hassan Toib, a liaison of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate, today.
High-ranking Malaysian officials participated in the meeting. It was reported that Malaysia’s national police headquarters would be the venue of the dialogue.
Hassan Toib signed an agreement with the Thai NSC chief in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 28, leading to today’s parley.