Friday, June 20, 2008

10 killed in military helicopter crash in restive Thai south

Agence France-Presse

Posted date: June 20, 2008

YALA -- Ten people were killed when a military helicopter crashed in Thailand's restive south Friday, the army spokesman said.

Four military officers and six forensic officials were on their way back from investigating the killing of a border policeman in Yala province when their helicopter crashed. All on board were killed instantly.

"All 10 people on board were killed when the helicopter developed a technical problem and tried to land, but crashed to the ground," army spokesman Colonel Acra Tiproch told Agence France-Presse.

Two pilots, two mechanics and six forensic officials were said to be on board. The helicopter was on its way back to Bannang Sata military base in Yala province.

Earlier Friday a border patrol police sergeant was killed and four police wounded after the latest ambush by separatist Muslim militants, police said. A sixth policeman was still missing.

Militants opened fire on the police patrolling in a pickup truck in Bannang Sata.

A brief gunfight ensued and the police truck veered off the road into a ravine.

The attack comes a day after a roadside bomb which killed two policemen and wounded five in nearby Pattani province.

More than 3,300 people have been killed since separatist unrest broke out in January 2004 in the south, which was an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate until mainly Buddhist Thailand annexed it in 1902, provoking decades of tension.

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