Insurgents shot dead a Buddhist man and burnt his body in an increasingly used atrocity in Yala early Tuesday, before detonating a bomb at police responding to the scene, wounding four people including a foreign photographer.Police said they were informed of the charred body at around 6.30 a.m. so they rushed to the scene in Muang district. The man was found to have been shot and his motorcycle was also found to have been burnt.When they arrived at the scene a bomb exploded on the roadside, slightly injuring three police men and Australian photographer Philip Blenkinsop.
"We were lucky that there were no scraps of metal in the bomb," said Yala Police Lieutenant Colonel Salawudh Wongderm.Blenkinsop, a World Press Photo winner, was only slightly injured by the explosion.It was the latest terrorist act in Thailand's violence-plagued deep South, a majority Muslim region that comprises Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces, all of which border Malaysia.Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country, has painted the southern conflict as a separatist insurgency, downplaying its religious element, a stance that has been accepted by much of the world's Islamic community.
The three provinces constituted an independent Islamic sultanate known as Pattani for hundreds of years before being conquered by Bangkok in 1786. The border provinces came under direct rule of the Thai bureaucracy in 1902.A separatist struggle took off in the 1950s, fuelled by government efforts to suppress the local culture and religion in the region.The long-simmering separatist struggle, after a two decade-long lull, took a turn for the worse when Muslim militants raided an army arms depot and stole more than 300 weapons in January 2004.