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Published: Saturday May 24, 2014 MYT 10:57:04 PM
Updated: Saturday May 24, 2014 MYT 10:58:05 PM

Suspected Muslim rebels launch attacks in Thai south, at least one dead

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Suspected Muslim separatists in southern Thailand launched a string of gun and bomb attacks on Saturday killing at least one person and wounding up to 40, government officials said.

The three southernmost provinces of predominantly Buddhist Thailand are majority Muslim and have been plagued by resistance to central government rule for decades.

The bombs exploded outside convenience stores and at two petrol stations, officials in the region said. One bomb also went off at an electricity station, cutting power in a district for up to 40 minutes, they said.

The attacks came two days after the Thai army overthrew the central government in a coup but the Muslim separatists' campaign is not directly linked to a power struggle in Bangkok that precipitated the coup.

More than 5,700 people have been killed in the south since January 2004 when the separatist stepped up their campaign. More than 40 have been killed this year.

The main demands of various shadowy rebel factions behind the violence is greater autonomy for their poor, long-neglected region on the border with Muslim-majority Malaysia.

Peace talks with some of the rebels began last year but have stalled, largely because authorities in Bangkok have been preoccupied with the political crisis there.

(Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Alison Williams)


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