Five dead, dozens wounded in car bomb in southern Thailand
SAI BURI, Thailand - Agence France-PresseAt least five people were killed and almost 40 more wounded Friday after a car bomb exploded in a packed market in Thailand's insurgency-hit south, officials told AFP.
"As of now five [are] dead including a paramilitary ranger and four civilians," a Sai Buri district hospital official told AFP, adding that of the wounded, 14 were in a "serious condition".
Local police confirmed the death toll and said 37 had been wounded, among them 25 civilians.
The hospital was struggling to cope with the casualties, referring the most seriously injured to provincial hospitals, and calling for urgent blood donations to help the wounded, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
The bomb, which followed Friday prayers in the Muslim majority region, came after shots were fired at shops in town, which an army spokesman said was meant to bring security forces to the scene.
"First militants opened fire at a gold shop and motorcycle repair shop to lure police and security officials to the scene before they detonated the bomb," Colonel Pramote Prom-in said.
A complex insurgency calling for greater autonomy has plagued Thailand's far south near the border with Malaysia since 2004, claiming more than 5,300 lives, both Buddhist and Muslim, with near daily bomb or gun attacks.
In response to an uptick in violence over the summer, authorities in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, have renewed peace contacts with militant leaders.