Army ranger, policeman shot dead in southern Thailand

HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) — An army ranger and a policeman were shot dead in Thailand’s deep south in the latest killings in a region troubled by violent Muslim separatism.

Police Capt. Pracha Haedhak said the body of army ranger Saifru Hasimae was found Thursday in Yala province. No motive for his killing has been established.

Separately, five gunmen opened fire Thursday at a police station in Narathiwat province, killing a policeman and wounding three others. Police Col. Surapong Chatsuth said the attack appeared to be retaliation for a gunbattle Wednesday at a police checkpoint that resulted in the deaths of two gunmen.

About 7,000 people have been killed since a Muslim separatist insurgency flared in 2004 in Buddhist-dominated Thailand’s three Muslim-majority provinces in its far south.

Police said the gunbattle on Wednesday occurred after a pickup truck tried to escape from a police checkpoint and its passengers began shooting at officers. The police fired back, killing two people.

Yuthanam Petchmuang, a deputy spokesman for the military’s security department that oversees the region, said the two men were suspected of being responsible for an attack in early March that killed four people.