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Sat, 31 Mar 2012 13:12 - Updated Sat, 31 Mar 2012 13:12

Three deadly explosions hit Yala in southern Thailand, officials say

BANGKOK

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BANGKOK - At least eight people have been killed in three explosions in the southern Thai province of Yala, officials say.

Yala Governor Dejrat Simsiri said the blasts occurred over 10 minutes at around midday (06:00 BST) in the commercial district of Yala city.

He said two of the bombs were hidden in motorcycles and the third in a car.

Thailand's three southern-most provinces have been plagued by bomb attacks and shootings since 2004, when a separatist campaign reignited.

The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies put the death toll from Saturday's bombings at eight, with around 70 wounded. AFP quoted a nurse in the emergency unit of Yala provincial hospital as saying nine people had died.

"There are nine dead now and 112 injured people sent to our hospital," the hospital worker told AFP.

 Thai police told AFP a policeman had also been injured in a separate motorcycle attack in Mae Lan in neighbouring Pattani province.

Thai officials said another explosion on Saturday - at a hotel in the city of Hat Yai, Songkhla province - was due to a gas leak and unrelated to the attacks, Associated Press reported.

More than 4,300 people have been killed in the violence in southern Thailand. As of 2011, the Thai army had 60,000 forces stationed in the region to tackle the insurgency.

Thailand annexed the three provinces - Narathiwat, Yala and Pattani - in 1902, but the majority of people there are Muslim and speak a Malay dialect, in contrast with the Buddhists in the rest of the country who speak Thai.

Critics accuse the government of failing to address the grievances of these residents.