- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

PATTANI, THAILAND (AP) - Suspected Muslim militants killed three soldiers in an ambush in southern Thailand on Friday, a day after the government ordered more troops to the area.

Thai military spokesman Col. Parinya Chaidilok said the three were in a group of eight soldiers patrolling a road by motorcycle in Narathiwat province. One person in the group was wounded.

An Islamic separatist insurgency in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces _ Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat _ has led to the deaths of more than 3,300 people since early 2004. They are the only predominantly Muslim provinces in the country, which is 90 percent Buddhist.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced Thursday that 4,000 more soldiers and other security personnel would be deployed to the region, supplementing more than 60,000 already there.

A massive counterinsurgency effort has recently slowed the pace of attacks but has shown little sign of ending the violence. Abhisit acknowledged that the reinforcements were needed because of the failure to restore security.

The insurgents’ attacks _ which include drive-by shootings and bombings _ are believed intended to frighten Buddhist residents into leaving the area. Their identity and precise goals have never been publicly declared.

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