Gunmen fired at security personnel at checkpoints in Thailand’s insurgency-racked south, killing 15 volunteer officers and wounding five others, police said Wednesday.
Some of the attackers may have been injured in an exchange of gunfire during the attack late Tuesday night, based on blood-stained clothing at the scene, said Col. Kiattisak Neewong, an army spokesperson who is heading to the scene in Yala province. Officials said the assailants took several weapons from the checkpoints, including an M16 rifle and three shotguns.
A Muslim separatist insurgency has left about 7,000 people dead since 2004 in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala. Police, teachers and other government representatives are often targets of the violence.
Kiattisak said four of the slain officers were women and one was a doctor. Thailand’s volunteer security forces in the south are raised from local villages and receive weapons training from the army but no salary. They are usually issued shotguns but also often carry personal handguns.
Col. Thaweesak Thongsongsi, a superintendent in a Yala police station, said nails had been scattered on a highway to disable vehicles entering Yala. A small explosive was found near an electrical pole to knock out power, and several burning tires were left at a school as well.