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Blasts kill nine in southern Thailand

March 31, 2012 |  7:45 am

At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded when a series of coordinated bombs detonated in Thailand's restive Muslim-dominated southern area Saturday, according to police and officials
REPORTING FROM NEW DELHI -– At least nine people were killed and dozens wounded when a series of coordinated bombs detonated in Thailand's restive Muslim-dominated southern area Saturday, according to police and officials.

Three bombs went off within minutes as shoppers ventured out around lunchtime in the city of Yala. An investigation is underway, but officials said the devices were apparently placed in cars or motorcycles. Yala Governor Detrat Simsiri told Thai television that many people were injured when the third bomb exploded as they gathered to see what had happened and help survivors.

A number of shops near the blast sites caught on fire, and many parked cars and motorcycles were damaged by the powerful explosions. In the immediate aftermath, rescue workers helped bloodied victims and searched for others as smoke filled the street.  

The shadowy southern Thailand separatist rebellion playing out near the border with Malaysia has killed more than 5,000 people. Once a separate kingdom, the area was annexed by Thailand in 1909. After a period of relative calm, violence flared again in 2004, leading to near-daily attacks since then. Authorities said this was the worst such attack in five years.

Many in the Muslim community feel that a succession of Thai Buddhist governments has sought to deny their identity. Last week, the military admitted troops had shot and killed four Muslim villagers heading to a funeral in late January because of a "misunderstanding," fearing they were under attack from militants. Human rights groups say the military's ability to act with relative impunity has added to local resentment.

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-- Mark Magnier

Photo: Authorities inspect the wreckage of a car after three bomb went off in Yala, Thailand. Credit: Muhammad Sabri / AFP/Getty Images

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