BANGKOK, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Four Thai police were killed in an ambush by suspected Muslim insurgent militants in restive southern province of Narathiwat, Thai News Agency reported on Saturday.
A pickup truck carrying four police officers was attacked by a bomb and then fired on by gunmen hiding in roadside bushes who then emerged to shoot all the officers to death on Friday evening.
The shooting took place in Narathiwat's Ruso district as the four officers were rushing to inspect a violent incident elsewhere in the district. Their vehicle were hit by a hail of bullets which sent it veering off the road. An unknown number of gunmen then emerged from roadside bushes and fired a number of shots more, making certain their victims were dead.
All four police officers were found dead in their vehicle.
Police investigators initially believed the violence was the work of militants who lured the four police officers to inspect another crime scene only for them to become victims themselves.
More than 5,000 people have been killed and over 9,000 injured in over 11,000 incidents, about 3.5 incidents a day, in Thailand's Muslim, ethnic-Malay dominated three southern border provinces -- Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and four districts of Songkhla -- since separatist violence erupted in January 2004, according to Deep South Watch, which monitors the regional violence.