Pattani, Thailand - Suspected separatists shot dead a labourer and three teenage boys in a separate attacks in southern Thailand, police reported Saturday said. Thai Buddhist labourer Manoon Saengethong, 42, was shot dead and his body doused with kerosine and set alight Saturday morning in Ruesor district of Narathiwat, said Ruesor Police Major Yongyudh Charoenwanit.
"The perpetrators are trying to stir up trouble between Thai Buddhists and Thai Muslims," Yongyudh said.
On Friday night in neighbouring Yala province, gunmen strafed a tea shop in Bannang Sata district, killing three boys all aged 14 and injuring another ten people.
Also, Friday night, suspected insurgents burned down five public schools in Songkhla province.
The new wave of violence follows reports that Thai Prime Minister Surayudh Chulanont will soon visit the deep South, Thailand's southernmost provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and parts of Songkhla.
The majority Muslim region borders Malaysia, and has long claimed closer cultural ties with its southern neighbour than with the predominantly Buddhist Thai state.
More than 2,100 people have fallen victim to violence in the region since January 2004, when a decades-old separatist struggle turned violent.
The deep South was an independent Islamic sultanate known as Pattani for hundreds of years before being conquered by Bangkok in 1786. The border provinces came under direct Thai rule in 1902.
The separatist struggle took off in the 1950s, fuelled by government efforts to suppress the local culture and religion.
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