Five Buddhists Killed in Southern Thailand

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Violence has once again escalated in Thailand's south. Five Buddhist villagers were killed by suspected Muslim insurgents in a drive-by shooting. More than four thousand people have been killed in violence over the past seven years.

On Thursday suspected Muslim separatists shot dead five Buddhists in Thailand's Pattani Province. Police say it is the latest attack in a recent escalation of violence in the region.

Police say it happened when the victims were sitting at a teashop outdoors and a group of suspected insurgents drove by in a pick-up truck and opened fire on them.

The intensification of violence comes after the government hailed the success of security operations and public relations campaigns in reducing the number of attacks.

The killings followed a bloody raid on an army camp, a massive roadside bombing and several drive-by shootings in the past two weeks.

Experts believe that the Malay Muslim rebel group is responsible for the recent unrest in the region. They seek independence from predominantly Buddhist Thailand.

Pattani is one of three Muslim-dominated provinces bordering Malaysia where more than 4,300 people have been killed in violence since 2004.