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Friday, November 10, 2006

Bombs hit eight car showrooms

Bombs hit eight car and motorcycle showrooms in Thailand's rebellious Muslim south almost simultaneously today, wounding nine people, despite post-coup government gestures to encourage peace, police said. Police said they had been on the alert for attacks in Yala a day after Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont visited the city.

''We knew they were going to do these, but we didn't expect the showrooms to be the target,'' Yala police chief Major General Paitoon Chuchaiya told Reuters by telephone. The bombs, all timed to explode around midday, were hidden in brand new cars by militants posing as potential customers, Paitoon said.

''We are confident salespeople at these showrooms must have seen those bombers and can give us useful information to find them,'' Paitoon said. The worst of the nine wounded was a woman who worked at one of the motorcycle shops. She lost her left hand and suffered head wounds, hospital staff said.

More than 1,700 people have been killed in almost three years of separatist insurgency in the region where 80 percent of the people are Muslim and speak a Malay dialect. The attacks came a day after Surayud went to a Yala school founded by an insurgent leader to appeal for an end to the violence, reinforcing his policy U-turn from elected predecessor Thaksin Shinawatra's hardline approach to the insurgency.


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