Three killed in Songkhla bombing

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SONGKHLA, June 28 – Three persons were killed as a bomb exploded in Na Thawi district of this southern border province this morning even as Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat was visiting a neighbouring province.

The bombing occurred in front of the Pithan Panich Company and a tea shop around 7am.

The victims were identified as retired Pol Sen Sgt Maj Chamras Thongkase, Pol Sen Sgt Maj Veera Kongkaew, on a police early retirement programme, and Sompob Saowaneepithak.

Initial investigation found that two teenagers entered the tea shop before the blast.

The explosion from a home-made bomb was detonated by a mobile phone signal which blasted a 30cm hole in the floor.

In Narathiwat, Defence Minister Sukumpol is on a monthly visit to inspect security operations in the insurgency-torn region. He was briefed by the Fourth Army Region commander on the situation.

He admitted that it is difficult for military operations to cover all the region due to complications of the conflict and said that time is needed to solve the problems.

The Friday visit came as the defence minister is reportedly about to be removed from his post as Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is tipped to take the defence portfolio in her fifth cabinet reshuffle.

Elsewhere, army rangers clashed with suspected insurgents in Rueso district during their raid in a house believed to be the hideout of the group.

They exchanged gunfire for about 15 minutes. One ranger was injured in the clash.

Seven suspects were arrested with .38 pistols. They were taken for further investigation in Narathiwat.