A 2-year-old girl, her father and 12 soldiers were injured Friday when a roadside bomb exploded just days before Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Thailand’s Deep South, officials said.
The attack in Sungai Kolok district of Narathiwat province brought the toll of violence in the predominantly Muslim region to at least 40 people injured and 25 killed since the holy month of Ramadan began on May 27, according to the military statistics.
Insurgents hid the bomb along the roadside and detonated it as soldiers passed by on a military transport truck, said Police Capt. Supichai Soynak, deputy investigator for Sungai Kolok station.
“The insurgents attacked the soldiers, I strongly believe, to cause havoc. The attack resulted in a dozen soldiers injured and a father and a daughter nearby,” he said.
An investigator at the scene who asked to not be identified said the soldiers were on their way to a shift change at Narathiwat Task Force 30 in Ban Lubo Sama village.
“The improvised explosive device was packed in a gas tank, weighed about 30 kilos (66 pounds), and was remotely triggered, causing the truck to veer off for some 50 meters,” he told BenarNews.
The father and daughter were identified as Abdullayi and Patanan Haji-Salaemae. The girl suffered a major cut on her right thigh, according to police.
The Friday attack followed a similar ambush on Monday that killed six soldiers in Pattani, another province in Thailand’s restive Deep South.
Since 2014, Thailand’s military-led government and MARA Patani, an umbrella group representing southern rebel groups, have held occasional meetings aimed at restarting official peace talks.
In February, MARA Patani and a government delegation agreed to set up a safety zone – or limited cease-fire – before the end of this year in a district where insurgents are known to operate. But attempts to restart peace talks have since stalled.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations in the Deep South have called for a ceasefire in public places such as schools, religious establishments and hospitals to spare women and children.
Wichianchoke Petchpakdi, an official with the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Center, told BenarNews that at least 87 children had been killed and 554 hurt, including 23 who suffered serious injuries, since 2004.
During that time, about 7,000 people have been killed in violence associated with the conflict in the Malay-speaking, majority Muslim region.